Rosemary to the rescue for eatery - and there’s no flies on the handy herb!

Rosemary in the window of the Fort Cafe

Rosemary in the window of the Fort Cafe - Credit: Archant

Love grows where my Rosemary goes. Or so the old song would have it. When it comes to the popular herb of the name, it seems sandflies detest the stuff.

Matthew Weaver, owner of the Fort Restaurant and Cafe on the Esplanade

Matthew Weaver, owner of the Fort Restaurant and Cafe on the Esplanade - Credit: Archant

When café owner Matthew Weaver faced an infestation of the tiny insects last week he was at his wit’s end - but help came from an unexpected source.

Delivery man Andrew Read suggested the proprietor of the Fort Restaurant on The Esplanade try putting sprigs of rosemary in the window.

“It seems to be working,” Matthew said. “We had a swarm of those little black flies. They covered the windows. We were literally hoovering them off.”

Customers were complaining about the sheer number of sandflies outside on the terrace as well, added Matthew.

Andrew Read, delivery man for Bidfood

Andrew Read, delivery man for Bidfood - Credit: Archant


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Andrew, a lorry driver for Bidfood, said: “My wife is into aromatherapy and we’ve done it in our house and I know it works. I’ve got some in my car, in my house and in my shed and I don’t have a problem with any flies.”

Matthew’s father, Alan, who lives in Sidmouth, had rosemary in his garden - so he decided to give it a try.

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“We stuck rosemary in each window and at the moment – touch wood - it seems to be keeping the flies away, which is bizarre,” he said.

Matthew has run the café for four years after 11 years as head chef at the Riviera Hotel.

Matthew Weaver, owner of the Fort Restaurant and Cafe on the Esplanade

Matthew Weaver, owner of the Fort Restaurant and Cafe on the Esplanade - Credit: Archant

“I’d always felt this was the best little restaurant in Sidmouth – as they say location, location, location - and by chance four years ago it came up. I love it. I get this beautiful view every day. It’s fantastic. It makes me happy every day and I have got lovely staff and it’s a very busy place,” he added.

Matthew cut his teeth as a chef at the Castle Hotel in Taunton under Phil Vickery. “It was a bit a jump from college to that. The hours were long but you learn. It makes you a proper chef. The skills he taught me were second-to-none,” he said.

And it’s very much a family concern. His wife Emma does the books, mum Pearl tidies the terrace and generally gives a hand and dad Alan does the tills – and now provides the rosemary for the windows.

As a token of their gratitude, the family presented Andrew with a potted plant - rosemary, of course. “I have no idea why it works but I just know the flies don’t like it. When I came back I was amazed,” he said.

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