By Mal Butler
The Birdham has made a welcome return to Bembridge, after it was bought by business partners, Mark Holmes and Steve Harris.
The name of the pub, previously known as the Spinnaker, has reverted to one of its previous titles to reflect the local history of the area.
Mark and Steve also own The Chequers Inn, Rookley, White Lion, Niton and Long Island, Newport. Mark has been in the trade since he was a child having grown up at The Chequers Inn which was run by his parents Richard and Sue for nearly 30 years. He said: “I’ve been working in the business since I was about five and dad threw me in the kitchen at The Chequers!
“We have bought the freehold of The Birdham from the Co-op and, like all our venues, it will have its own individuality. We don’t have a group name because each of them is different in its own right.
“The Birdham has so much potential. It is a hotel with 14 rooms, has a huge function room which can accommodate weddings, a restaurant and a bar for our locals. We’ve already made changes, ripping out carpets and painting inside as well as upgrading some of our bed and breakfast rooms and we’re also going to put in a bridal suite for wedding parties.
“We’re in a lovely village close to the coast and it’s ideal for staycations on the Island.”
Mark and executive chef, Steve, who previously worked at the Royal Hotel, Ventnor, have been business partners for the last five years.
They decided to change the name of the pub following a public vote on its Facebook page.
“We have always valued our locals and know they are our bread and butter, so we felt listening to them and changing the name would be a big statement and set the tone we wish to have with the village. We didn’t know whether to go for something completely new or go for one of the previous names. In the end, The Birdham was the most popular by a mile, so that’s what we have run with. We also like the history around it; the corner we’re situated on is known as the Birdham Corner. The houses opposite are all called Birdham.”
Header image: Steve Harris with partner Gemma Chivers alongside Mark and Laura Holmes and Freddie (eight months) and the Birdham team