New landlord of Sheffield pub reveals exciting plans as he prepares to welcome customers back
The new landlord of a pub in a Sheffield neighbourhood is gearing up to open its beer garden next month, and has revealed his plans for its future.
Matthew Begley took over the Walkley Cottage on December 1 last year, but coronavirus restrictions have meant that he has not had a single day of trading since taking it up.
He is now looking forward to welcoming customers back to the pub’s revamped beer garden from April 12, when outdoor hospitality is permitted to reopen.
Matthew, who lives above the pub with wife, Khatuna, and their three sons, has been busy jet washing the garden, planting flowers, creating a children’s play area and increasing the number of tables from five to 10.
"We’ve been down the garden centre every day to put flowers in and I think it’s helped to give the garden a softer feel,” said Matthew, adding: “I’d like people to feel it’s very welcoming, very friendly, and I’d like it to become people’s local again.”
Matthew says the support they have received from Walkley residents has been “amazing,” and the pub has already taken a lot of bookings. They are currently at around 50 to 60 per cent capacity for the first lot of dates.
The previous owners of the Walkley Cottage, Richard and David Ambler-Young have helped to show Matthew and Khatuna the ropes, which Matthew says has been extremely useful as they prepare to welcome customers for the first time.
Matthew is originally from Brisbane, Australia and came over to the UK in 1999, and forged a career path in hospitality, initially working in a family of Italian restaurants in Leicester and worked his way up from dish washer to manager.
He moved to Sheffield in 2007 after meeting Khatuna, and describes the city as the most “aesthetically” pleasing place in England, due to it being “so near to the bush.”
"The people are ever so friendly. I don’t want to slate the South, but the people here are just more honest, more friendly. Sheffield is very unique,” said Matthew, adding that he loves the views of the Rivelin Valley he and the family are afforded from the top floor of the Walkely Cottage.
“It’s a very beautful area of Sheffield,” he said.
Matthew and Khatuna successfully ran Ella’s Café, off Hunter’s Bar, from 2015 to 2019.
It became known for its breakfasts and Sunday brunch offering, and turned into a bistro on Friday and Saturday nights.
Matthew also has big plans for the range of food that will be on offer at the Walkley Cottage, and from May will introduce a “fishy Friday,” as part of which he hopes to serve barramundi, which is popular in Australia and has been nicknamed the “Asian sea bass.”
He also hopes to make Steak Saturdays a regular staple at the pub, and wants to start a curry and a quiz night on a Tuesday with the hope of donating 50 per cent of the profits to a different Sheffield charity each month.
In addition, Matthew plans to regularly offer five course meals, that will either be paired with a selection of wines or beers, and to sporadically serve up cuisine from Georgia, which is where Khatuna hails from.
"We used to do Georgian meals at Ella’s and they were really popular. It’s a good mixture of Mediterranean and Eastern European food, with things like marinated pork skewers and khachapuri which is a soft cheese bread that the woman of every household in Georgia takes pride in making,” said Matthew.
Looking towards reopening, Matthew said: “We’re looking forward to getting out there, to working and meeting people and to experiencing this area.”
Anyone wishing to book a table at the Walkley Cottage should do so through the pub’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/thewalkleycottage