The Pilot Inn
89 Meads Street,
A well-established pub serving modern British food all day plus three newly installed double bed and breakfast rooms with full en suite facilities.
Lisa Carter and Simon Jewell are the couple behind the wheel at the Pilot Inn. Simon was born in Eastbourne and frequented the Pilot in his younger days. After a spell abroad, he returned and established a successful building firm. When he met Lisa, who originally hails from Stockton-on-Tees, she was managing a local hotel and had several years’ experience in the hospitality business. Says Simon: ‘We thought it would be a good idea to combine our skills so when the opportunity came up to buy the lease of the Pilot we decided to take it on.
‘This was back in 2012. The place still had a good name, but it needed a lot of work behind the scenes. It had originally been a row of fisherman’s cottages which were converted into a pub in the 1880’s. A lot of the walls were the original lathe and plaster. My building experience certainly came in handy during that stage.
‘A year later we added a bigger dining area and launched our bed and breakfast business which went well from the start. We knew that we wanted to offer something more than standard pub food but as neither of us had direct catering experience it was quite a steep learning curve. We worked very hard to achieve that goal.’
And judging by their excellent ratings this has paid off. And they haven’t stopped there. In 2017 they got planning permission for a major redevelopment and the first phase, extending and fitting out the kitchen with state of the art cooking and catering equipment is now complete.
Simon explains: ’The second phase will be another dining area giving us almost thirty extra covers. We knew that to make that work we needed to create a kitchen that could handle it. And it’s turned out brilliantly thanks to great advice from Chris, the talented young chef who is a key member of our team. The new kitchen will give him the opportunity to showcase his skills, extend the range of our food offering and increase the speed of our service.’
Over to Lisa: ’I’ve really enjoyed getting the B&B business off the ground. We have three double en-suites which have recently been refurbished and people from all over the world come to stay. Not surprisingly we are also popular with walkers doing the South Downs Way. Their luggage often arrives before them! There has been a marked change in B&B over the last few years as people become more discerning, looking for something that not only has character but also style.’
And how do they feel about Meads Village? Simon says: ‘Well, you couldn’t really ask for a better location. We love the village and its unspoilt character. We are very much in favour of what the MCA is doing on Place-making. We think that it will make people more aware of the Pilot and walk that extra few minutes down Meads Street to enjoy what we have to offer. A homely and welcoming village pub with a sun-trap garden, great food and excellent service. It’s something that we believe in passionately.’