If there’s one thing we like as much as a pub, it’s a deli, so there’s nothing more perfect than when the two combine.
The landlords at the Old Black Horse in Houghton on the Hill have added a new dimension to the pub with the addition of The Shepherd’s Hut. Working alongside a range of local producers, as well as their own home grown produce, they’ve got a fab deli set-up at the pub.
We caught up with them to find out more about what they have on offer and their future plans.
How would you describe the Shepherd’s Hut for anyone who hasn’t visited?
The Shepherd’s Hut is our lovely family run mini farm shop located inside our wonderful village pub, the Old Black Horse in Houghton on the Hill. We’re passionate about food & drink – the more local the better. The hut is filled with all sorts of lovely things. From fresh, locally sourced essentials including locally produced milk, and fresh fruit, veg, bread & meat; to delicious treats, like fudgey home baked chocolate brownies & Leicestershire distilled gin.
What are some of your favourite products that you sell?
We have so many lovely products, it’s hard to pick a favourite! We’re lucky to have so many fab local producers to work with. Food & drink wise our milk is one of our favourites. Kingarth Farm supply us with delicious milk that’s produced on their farm in Burton Overy. It’s lovely seeing a fridge full of glass bottles of their lovely milk that’s travelled less than 5 miles from their door to ours. Bec loves baking & her great big home baked brownies are definitely customer favourites (and we won’t lie, a few from each batch tend to find themselves demolished with our mid afternoon coffee). Aside from food we absolutely adore the wonderful British blooms that are delivered by Pickleberry flowers every Friday. Flower Friday definitely puts a smile on our face each week.
You’re also the team who run the pub, how has life been adapting from landlords to deli managers?
We’ve been running the Old Black Horse for 18 months, although we’re not new to running pubs. Nothing could have prepared us though for the journey that we’d take to get to where we are right now. 2019 saw us begin to settle in & put our stamp on the pub. We’ve hopefully shown customers old and new what we’re about. We’ve tried to channel our passion for using the best of local & seasonal produce into everything we do.
In September 2019 we decided to start a small holding. We grow some of our favourite spring and summer fruit, veg and herbs on site, and we decided to buy 4 lambs with the intention of one day opening a farm shop. When the first lockdown was announced we decided to seize the opportunity. We built ourselves a lovely little wooden hut, grew our flock to enable us to rear enough lamb to sell in the shop and set about finding out how on earth we go about making a shop work. It’s been challenging at times but it’s also been exciting and it’s been great to have a focus while the pub’s been closed. We’re missing pulling pints but it’s nice to still see regulars when they pop in to shop.
We’ve formed relationships with some amazing fellow independent business owners that we might not have if we hadn’t decided to give it a go. Our favourite part of starting the shop has been having the opportunity to showcase the things we love. The Shepherd’s Hut very much reflects who we are & what’s important to us.
You have your own farm locally, do you sell your own produce in the farm shop, or indeed use it at the pub?
Our farm has grown from 4 sheep back in September 2019 to a flock of just short of 100 Jacobs sheep, 6 free range hens and a kitchen garden. Throughout the summer our home grown produce was used by our kitchen in some delicious dishes. Our customers have also enjoyed home reared lamb on our menu. Spring will see us begin to sell our home reared lamb in the Shepherd’s Hut, and we’re really excited about that.
How do you find the area around the pub as a community and how has everyone adapted during recent months?
The people of Houghton & the surrounding area have been absolutely amazing throughout the last 18 months, but in particular throughout this pandemic. We have been genuinely humbled by the outpouring of love and support they have shown us. The folks of Houghton have supported us through ordering takeaways as well as shopping at the Shepherd’s Hut. It was lovely to be able to welcome people back throughout the summer and September, and everyone has adapted to the changes and rules wonderfully. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the pub as soon as we can.
What’s your favourite thing about running The Shepherd’s Hut?
Our favourite thing about the Shepherd’s Hut is definitely the joy of being able to bring the best of local food, drink & hand crafted lovely things together in one place. Working with other small businesses that share our passion and enthusiasm is fantastic, and that enthusiasm is infectious and certainly helps keep spirits up through what’s been a really tough 10 months or so.
We’ve heard rumours that you might also soon be launching a delivery service?
We’ve been helping out where we can in delivering to those who have been shielding or stuck at home isolating. We’re currently busy working on creating a more permanent delivery system and are hoping to have regular delivery slots available to Houghton and the surrounding villages in the next few weeks.
Where can people find out more and when can they visit?
Our lovely new website will be ready soon, in the meantime we’re keeping our Instagram (@the_shepherdshut) and Facebook (@theshepherdshuthoughton) pages are the best place to find out what we’re up to.
The Shepherd’s Hut is open Wednesday – Saturday from 9am.