A Year of The Duck and Willow: Interview with Amy DevenishPosted on: 08 Sep 2017
The Duck and Willow in Downend is the second pub owned by Amy Devenish who already has the award winning Gloucester Old Spot on Kellaway Avenue in BS6. Venturing East over to Downend almost this time last year, she partnered up with her head chef Tom Brownell to bring their independent family friendly pub ideas to another area of the city. 365Bristol caught up with Amy to find out how its all been going.
The Duck and Willow is approaching its first birthday in December. Tell us about how you are finding life in Downend.
Life in Downend is great; the customers are lovely and we’ve managed to fit in quite nicely to Downend life. We recognised that there was a real gap in the market in Downend for what we do so it’s great to bring in something different to the Bristol suburb.
Anything new on the menu we’ve not seen before?
We’ve just started serving some sharing platters, the rib of beef is beautiful, a 20oz cut of beef served with fries, onion rings, mushrooms, tomato and peppercorn sauce. It’s great for a date night. The Texas BBQ sharer is also going down a storm. We have just launched a new lunch menu and our Lunch Club deal (2 pub classics for £13.00) is a steal.
Are the Gloucester Old Spot Sausages still available?
They most certainly are! Like The Old Spot, we use The Somerset Sausage Company and have a different style of Gloucester Old Spot sausage every week. Served with creamy mash, savoy cabbage and red onion gravy, they’re delicious.
For Sunday Roasts over at The Gloucester Old Spot it’s difficult to get a large table without booking in advance – same thing in Downend presumably?
We do get pretty booked up on Sundays in our restaurant but we do keep the bar area and garden free for walk-ins so you’ll always find somewhere to sit. Our Sunday Best deal is fab, a starter and main course for £16.95.
I like the look of the duck combo menu for kids. Aside from the food how do you keep them entertained at the pub?
We have colouring/activity sheets for them which is usually enough to keep the little ones occupied so the adults can relax. Our garden isn’t quite as family friendly as The Old Spot yet but we have big plans. We divided the garden into two before we opened last December and have concentrated on making one side great, next year we will complete phase two which means it will be double the size. We will be getting the guys at Turf King to put artificial grass in, like The Old Spot and will even have a Wendy house for the little ones. We’re hoping it will become one of the best gardens in Downend for all the family.
Are you opening for Christmas Dinner? If yes, how can we book?
We will be serving a Christmas menu from 1st December until 24th December but we will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day to give everyone a well-deserved break. To book, please phone us on 0117 956 6843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The craft ale selection has been described as an “eclectic mix”. What’s your recommendations that must be tried?
We have just put Longhorn by Purity on the menu and it’s fab. A lovely pint.
Any plans yet for 2018? Another Tough Mudder or have you plans to complete the trifecta of pubs?
Tough Mudder was a lot of fun so this may be on the cards but another pub probably won’t be unfortunately. Although the second time around it was much easier I am quite content owning two pubs at the age of 33 so will just be concentrating on making the ones I’ve got even better.
With two thriving independent pubs, what piece of advice would you give to those looking to start their own business?
Know your business. A lot of people think that owning a pub is a walk in the park but in reality, it’s hard work, long hours and with the current market can be a real gamble. I have worked in hospitality for 18 years and have a degree in Hospitality Management and I still waited until I was 30 years old to bite the bullet as I wanted to make sure I knew enough about my area of business. Being your own boss is the best and if you’ve got the entrepreneurial gene then go for it but make sure you plan, plan, plan.
The Mayor question - what would you do if you were in Marvin’s shoes for a day?
I would make sure that there was more encouragement for small independent businesses by reducing business rates. I would also look at some public spaces around the city and put them to better use. Bristol has changed a lot as a city in the last 10 years and it’s only getting better so let’s do as much as possible to keep it this way.
Visit The Duck and Willow at 64 Downend Road, Downend, Bristol BS16 5UE or visit their website.
Bristol born and bred despite the name, Brendan has been working in the digital media sector for the last 10 years and advertising for the last 20 years. A wealth of knowledge about the city and more importantly at how to help businesses get as much online exposure as possible. Call Brendan on 07876 735153 or email Brendan@365bristol.com or pop in for a coffee and a chat at Aardman.