Meet the MD: Richard Martin
PUBLISHED: 13:02 07 November 2014 | UPDATED: 13:02 07 November 2014
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
The owner of Kent Inns of Distinction on relaunches, rice pudding and smoking bans
Tell us a bit about you
I was born in Dover and schooled at Kent College Canterbury, then lived and worked in North America in the late eighties and early nineties. I’m married in to Sherry and we have two children, Libby and Harry, and two grown-up step-children, Daniel and Kelly. We live just outside Sandwich, five minutes’ drive from both our outlets.
Tell us about your business
Kent Inns of Distinction was formed in 2004 with the purchase of The Dog Inn at Wingham. We added The Blazing Donkey at Ham in 2007 in a £1.5m family buy-out. Two years later, we acquired The Ivyhouse in Tonbridge in 2009, a very busy High Street pub restaurant now successfully owned and operated by our son Daniel.
Kent Inns of Distinction has a portfolio of two very different licensed properties in Wingham (The Dog Inn Steakhouse, nano-brewery and hotel) and in Ham The Blazing Donkey Country Hotel is a popular wedding venue).
What’s your favourite dish currently on the menu?
In a red meat mood it’s Tomahawk steak (Cotes du Beouf) or in a healthy mood pan- seared hake, with baked rice pudding my favourite dessert.
How is business generally?
Business is currently very good with occupancy and sales rising steadily as the economic recovery continues. The Blazing Donkey is the most prolific host of weddings in East Kent with more than 104 weddings in 2014 and bookings swelling for future years too as weddings can be booked up to two and sometimes three years ahead.
On the tenth anniversary of the acquisition of The Dog Inn, its recent rebranding and relaunching has proved a success too with record numbers of diners flocking to eat here. The company re-invests around £75k annually in improving the fabric of its properties and in equipment and furniture renewals, with the biggest recent
investment being made in our own brewery facilities.
The Black Dog Brewery
is now operating and initially producing a range of ales for our own outlets. We hope
eventually to broaden the range for the wider market.
Best-ever piece of advice?
The most notable piece of advice that deserves a mention came from my wife who, against my judgement, correctly insisted that we should ban smoking at our Wingham restaurant hotel, a number of years ahead of the actual government ban back in 2004. When word got out non-smoking customers flocked in large numbers, resulting in a meteoric growth in sales for The Dog Inn.
What makes a good boss?
One who listens, nurtures and supports his team. He also rewards loyalty.
Your most prized possession?
I’m not very possessive nor indeed materialistic, so nothing really.
Do you use social media?
I don’t use social media myself as I hate it on a personal level, but commercially it’s a valuable sales tool. It hasn’t really changed the way we do business but it has certainly added to the marketing armoury.
How is your work/life balance?
My hobbies are golf and family days, with more of the latter lately as I’m about to have a replacement hip operation! A work/life balance is shot to pieces in our line of work. Our work is our life and as long as we continue to enjoy it, then happy days!
Do you use any other pubs or restaurants in Kent?
Our favourite restaurant locally is also the children’s favourite Wagamama and we also like to use a local Italian restaurant in Sandwich called Luigis. Luigi and his wife are both always very friendly hosts, the food is consistently good and the children love it.
What did you have for breakfast?
Breakfast this morning was pot of instant porridge - naff but nice!#
GET IN TOUCH
Kent Inns of Distinction
The Dog Inn at Wingham
Wingham CT3 1BB
01227 720339 or firstname.lastname@example.org