Going out with a bang

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023
Ben & Sarah Handley
Ben and Sarah Handley toasting their success at the GQ Food & Drink Awards

The Duck Inn calls time on 10 incredible years.

Ben and Sarah Handley announced today that they will be stepping down from the multi-award winning Duck Inn in Stanhoe, Norfolk after ten years. They have given 6 months notice period to the landlords, Elgood’s Brewery, and hope that someone can be found to take on this iconic business along with its fantastic team. In a social media post this afternoon, the pub announced that it was ’time to hand on the baton’.

Ben said “the past few years have been particularly challenging for all of us, but we have been overwhelmed by the incredible support from all of our customers and suppliers, as well as the unwavering commitment from our amazing team. Sarah and myself feel that the time is now right to pass on the baton of this truly special little pub to someone else who can bring the fresh energy and ideas to take it forward yet another step, whilst we take a little time to rest up and reflect on a really special decade in our lives.”

Sarah added “Every single member of our team over the past 10 years has been so important in creating the unique atmosphere and delivering the highest level of hospitality to our customers, and we would like to thank each and every one of them. We wouldn’t have been able to do anything without them and we will always be a very large extended family. We would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to Elgood’s Brewery for all of their support throughout our time here.”

The Duck was honoured by the community for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic when Ben created thousands of meals for the NHS, East of England Ambulance Service, homeless and vulnerable people and many more. The village of Stanhoe presented him with a blue plaque from Lady Dannatt and the people of Norfolk which is proudly on display on the outside of the pub.

The next 6 months will be a period of celebration for the team, as they reflect on an extraordinary decade and champion many of the classic dishes that have put their name on the culinary map on the UK.

Since taking on this small village pub in 2013, Ben and Sarah have built up a loyal following of customers and have garnered national recognition, being named The Good Food Guide’s Best Restaurant in the East of England in 2017, Finalist in GQ Magazine’s UK Pub of the Year, Finalist in the Observer Food Monthly Awards 7 years running for Best Sunday Lunch, as well as being mainstays in the iconic UK Top 50 Gastropubs list. Ben was also named the Norfolk Food Hero for his commitment to championing Norfolk and its produce at The Duck Inn.

Seasonal, local produce has been at the heart of the offering at The Duck Inn, selling local drinks such as Archangel Gin, Cobble Hill Wine and Black Shuck Vodka, whilst in the kitchen the full suite of Norfolk food is turned into delicious dishes including fillet of Arthur Howell’s beef with mushroom and truffle risotto, free range Swannington pork chop with a 60 degree fried egg, Fruit Pig black pudding and champ mash, as well as plump mussels from Peter Loose in Brancaster available throughout the season. “The food here was properly good” said food critic Giles Coren following a summer visit in 2020.

The Duck Inn has become synonymous with Sunday lunch, serving up Arthur Howell’s sirloin of Holkham Estate beef which has been matured in The Duck’s own ageing cabinet, alongside Swannington Pork with coriander salt crackling and a vegetarian pie of roasted vegetables and toasted seeds. Named by The Observer newspaper as one of the best in Britain, the Sunday lunch also came in at Number 4 in the UK in The Sunday Times’ list.

Ben said “we realised early on at The Duck that Sunday was a very special day, and we wanted to create an atmosphere for everyone to feel welcome and enjoy a family Sunday lunch, using the very best local produce, without the stress of cooking and washing up. Our hearts are always warmed as we see the same faces every week, which shows us that we have created that special home from home for families to enjoy the most special day of the week.”

Ben promises the next six months will be the best it has ever been at The Duck and invites everyone to come along to toast ten wonderful years and enjoy many of the dishes which have made them famous.

Ben and Sarah are looking forward to the future, and Ben has hinted that he won’t disappear for too long. “I am very excited for what happens next and am listening to offers and ideas which put great food front and centre, so keep your eyes peeled because I’m not going away. In the meantime, please come and celebrate this wonderful little village pub in Stanhoe which we have been proud to call home since 2013” he said.

The Duck Inn, Stanhoe is open Wednesday to Sunday and tables can be booked by calling 01485 518330.

If you are interested in taking on the tenancy of The Duck Inn, please speak to Robin or Donna on 01945 583160 or email info@elgoods-brewery.co.uk