Owner of award-winning pub reflects on 'rollercoaster' first year in charge

Siobhan Peyton, co-owner of Sculthorpe Mill, near Fakenham

Siobhan Peyton, co-owner of Sculthorpe Mill, near Fakenham - Credit: Andrew Waddison/AW PR

The owner of an award-winning pub and hotel says she is full of pride at what her business has achieved - despite a "rollercoaster" first year in charge. 

Siobhan Peyton reopened Sculthorpe Mill, near Fakenham, alongside her sister Caitriona in July 2021. 

Sculthorpe Mill near Fakenham in north Norfolk.

Michelin's reviewers loved Sculthorpe Mill near Fakenham - Credit: AW PR

Over the past 12 months, the pair have been forced to deal with a number of issues including the impact of coronavirus, staff shortages and the effects of the cost-of-living crisis. 

But their tenure has been packed with accolades, such as being honoured by Michelin in February and awarded a spot in the Sunday Times' 100 best places to stay in the country list. 

Reflecting on an unpredictable period, co-owner Siobhan said 2021/22 had been a year of "peaks and troughs". 

She added: "It has been a long year. We have achieved an awful lot in a short amount of time and the feedback has been so positive.

Food from Sculthorpe Mill, near Fakenham, in north Norfolk, which has been awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide.

Sculthorpe Mill prides itself on creating dishes that celebrate Norfolk's abundance of amazing produce. - Credit: AW PR

“We were so busy on just delivering that any accolade came as a surprise, but we are so grateful.

“The peaks and troughs were fairly dramatic, but we are used to the challenges now.”

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Those first-year challenges were perfectly encapsulated earlier this week, when scorching temperatures saw several customers cancel bookings in a bid to stay out of the heat. 

Staff shifts were cancelled and the menu reduced as the owners prepared for a quiet night - but they were left stunned when punters began piling into the pub. 

The waterside terrace at Sculthorpe Mill, near Fakenham in north Norfolk which has been given a Michelin Award.

The Michelin Guide complimented the restaurant's waterside terrace. - Credit: AW PR

However, they managed to pull through, just as they have done amidst the spiralling spread new Covid variants and difficulties in recruiting front-of-house staff. 

Siobhan said she could take most pride from the business becoming embedded in the community, especially with its outdoor Saturday Sessions which offer food, drinks and music in a relaxed environment. 

“We wanted Saturday Sessions to attract young people and families at all price points, from a sausage roll to a four-course meal, and we are getting close to achieving that,” she added.

“Bringing in a mix of people, from locals to tourists. is what I feel most proud of. We are  we are what a country pub should be, which is something for everyone.”

Looking ahead, Siobhan vowed to continue raising the bar and attracting new faces.