Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Once described as ungradeable by Visit England, the Salty Monk has changed beyond compare.
Now the owners behind that transformation celebrate 15 years at the helm.
Andy and Annette Witheridge’s dream was to find a beautiful part of the country to raise their young family. They worked at a hotel in Venn Ottery before the owners decided to turn it into a house, and with no secure future, they looked to find their own business.
Andy said: “We sent the letters on the Thursday, heard back from one on the Friday, viewed it on the Saturday and we signed on the Sunday. You could say fate had a hand in it.
“I had a four-year-old and a very pregnant wife and this was all I knew how to do, I didn’t really want to go and work for someone else.”
It was not all plain sailing - the Salty Monk was in poor condition when they moved in on September 10 1999, with 16-tonnes of garden waste needing removing. Now it is the toast of Sidford, with consecutive gold awards for the last 12 years in the Taste of the West and the AA rosette.
The family have cemented themselves as a proud supporter of working with local suppliers and people.
They only use local products from within a 10-mile radius and the restaurant and brassiere is decorated with work from local artists and jewellers.
Linda Withecombe, 59, and Scott Horn, 26, are also celebrating a great achievement after working at the Salty Monk for 10 years.
Linda worked at a large hotel as head housekeeper for 18 years before joining the Witheridges.
“I was just a number - when I came here I was part of the family. We all get on well, and I will stay here until I retire.” said Linda.
Scott came straight from school to work as a chef and now joins Andy in their project with The King’s School in Ottery St Mary training budding chefs and front of house staff.
All the meals are cooked from scratch - from the curing of the bacon to the preserving of the breakfast jams and marmalades.
Scott said: “What we produce evolves as my skills improve and we have done more and more.”
Andy added that the business would hold a low-key event with glasses of champagne to celebrate the milestone.