Michelin restaurant owners hand over reins after 14 years
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
The owners of a popular Bungay restaurant have handed over the reins after 14 years in charge.
Tanya Martin and Mark Hougham took over the Castle Inn, in Bungay, in 2007, being nominated for multiple county and national awards and included in the Michelin Guide within two years of opening.
The family-run Three Cooks Restaurant, led by husband-and-wife duo Chan and Stuart O'Neill, moved into the Earsham Street site last month, taking over the bed and breakfast side of the business in the process.
Mrs Martin said: "We are both ambitious and this was our first business venture together, but it has been really successful all the way through the 14 years we have been there.
"Then when Covid happened, we chose to shut before Boris Johnson told us we had to because we knew people didn't feel safe.
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"The restaurant isn't the biggest so with social distancing we decided it wasn't viable to open it again."
The restaurant remained closed throughout the pandemic, despite bed and breakfast side having its best August and September ever as holidaymakers sought UK stays.
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Having opened the Suffolk Stonehouse in 2014, the duo will now focus their attention on St Mary's Street pizza restaurant.
Mrs Martin said: "Our pizza restaurant is award-winning but we have been dividing ourselves between the two businesses, as well as having three children.
"It has been totally different during the pandemic, from being a small business to having an app and we are busier than we have ever been and more than we could have imagined.
"We have doubled the number of staff.
"Then in the autumn Stuart and Chan approached us and asked if we would consider renting the restaurant to them.
"We decided it would be a good time with no commitments and nothing tying us there anymore, so it has worked out quite well."
Mrs Martin also praised their "amazing" staff over the last 14 years, including Jenny Daniels, an employee from before the couple bought the Castle Inn, and who will now stay to continue working at the bed and breakfast and restaurant.