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Lee & Sharon a.k.a 'Dizzy' and the Grumpy chef!

We chatted to Lee about why he loved running the Waldy with his partner Sharon and what made it such a success.


When did you run the pub and who did you work with? 

“2003-2014 (ish) my memory for dates is bad but Sharon’s is better! I was in the kitchen with a couple of kitchen staff and Sharon was out front hosting – seven of us or so in total. Sharon is such a character and she always made everyone feel welcome as she got to know them personally. And I can’t not mention Monica – she was well into her 80s and very popular with the locals. 


What was it like as a pub back then? 

“It didn’t feel like any other pub we knew of because it had this mix of traditional pub food and fine dining. In the restaurant area we did the fancy food, serving sirloin steak and sea bass then in the bar we’d have the locals in for drinks and bar snacks. Apart from Sundays, that is, when it was just roasts all over, which were always hugely popular. We always made sure there was something to appeal to everyone in the village and overall it was just a great family-orientated pub. 


What made the pub special to you?

“We actually got married at the Waldy in 2008 (I hope I’ve got that date right!). We had the ceremony across the road at the church and invited everyone back to the pub who knew us. It ended up being about 300 people and we put on a hog roast and a couple of bands and had a mad time. Most of the village turned up. 

What other kinds of events did you put on?

“We did all sorts, like Italian nights and Spanish nights. We’d never just sit there waiting for business to come in – we’d always be thinking of something. There was fish, chips and a pint for a fiver on a Wednesday and a pensioners’ lunch. We put on things midweek as Friday, Saturday and Sunday would always fill the tables. We also organised outings, like going to Wincanton Races. Whenever we organised anything people would come and have a good time. There were never any skirmishes (that I knew about!)


What was the best part of running the Waldy?

“It was long work but not hard work. I’d finish around 9 or 10 pm but then I’d sit at the bar and socialise just with one or two pints, not more. Sharon’s nickname was ‘Dizzy’ as she's a fun-loving blonde. When we put on our fine dining she’d just go round tables and host and look after people. I’d be in the kitchen as the grumpy chef with the kids running round me. There were hard times as well with a pressure to make profits and also when things needed repairing that was on us. We could never just sit back and wait for it to make money. 


“The thing that really made the pub was the staff. It sounds cliché but we really were like one big family. There were always outings and drinks after work and on a Sunday we’d all sit down to a big lunch after shift – even if it did mean I had to cook up yet another batch of sauce for the cauliflower cheese! We employed staff directly from the village and we could always give someone a ring. We never failed to celebrate their birthdays and their families would come up too, so it was always a full house. 

Why do you think we should be saving the Waldy? 

“It’s the perfect spot for the perfect pub. You’ve got young families, older people, locals, professionals. It’s rife for business and the size of the pub is so cute and ready for it. It deserves to be successful. It has all the potential to be a lovely traditional country pub where people will make it a destination. 


What do you think about the community effort to buy the pub?

“I’m so impressed by the amount of effort I’ve seen to get this off the ground. If people in the village support it I can’t see why it won’t work. The area needs another pub like the Waldegrave Arms and if you can get the right mix of fine dining, country fair and staff you can’t go wrong. You’ve also got to listen to what people want. I should know. I refused to serve chips for years and when I eventually gave in they were one of our biggest profit-makers!”

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