Award-winning chef to re-open historic Honiton pub

PUBLISHED: 17:00 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:10 01 June 2018

New Railway Inn owners Paul Greenhead and Beth Cowley. Ref mhh 21 18TI 3907. Picture: Terry Ife

New Railway Inn owners Paul Greenhead and Beth Cowley. Ref mhh 21 18TI 3907. Picture: Terry Ife

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One of Honiton's most historic buildings is set to re-open as a gastropub - headed up by an award-winning chef of 20 years.

New Railway Inn owners Paul Greenhead and Beth Cowley. Ref mhh 21 18TI 3915. Picture: Terry IfeNew Railway Inn owners Paul Greenhead and Beth Cowley. Ref mhh 21 18TI 3915. Picture: Terry Ife

The Railway, in Queen Street, has been empty since closing last year, but the once-popular eatery will soon re-open under the guidance of Paul Greenhead.

Paul and his partner Beth Cowley previously ran Café Catalan in Exeter for four years before closing it last month.

Eyes firmly set on their next venture, they explored several options in Honiton before settling on the Railway.

Paul, 51, said: “We chose the Railway because our café was in a residential area of Exeter – and that was the draw of our business.

“We did not get the high street trade, they came to us because they wanted to come to us.

“It is the same at the Railway - we are in the middle of thousands of houses.

“We felt coming here that we could pick into what we do well and be successful.”

The revamped Railway will feature a bar area, offering a selection of wines from around the world, and a large dining area.

Aside from his regular menu, Paul will be devising a fish specials board, featuring freshly-caught seafood.

He said his cooking is not based on ‘gimmicks and tricks’, but demonstrated through his years of working as a classically-trained chef.

Paul added: “Our menu will be a mix of modern English and French cuisine. It will be refined dining without being gimmicky.

“I want people to say about my cooking ‘That is really delicious’ instead of ‘That is really clever’.”

The menu will also offer vegetarian dishes, while the option of vegan cuisine could be explored depending on demand.

Paul said well-behaved dogs will be allowed in the bar area with their well-behaved owners, while three boarding rooms are also offered at a building adjacent to the restaurant.

The revival of the Railway has also created up to ten jobs, with the majority of interviews having already been completed.

Also coming into the kitchen is a sous-chef who previously worked under award-winning chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

But Paul said: “We are not about getting accolades. It’s about being busy and making a name of ourselves here.”

Paul and Beth previously owned Exeter-based tapas restaurant Café Catalan, which ran successfully in the city for four years.

He said: “I have had restaurants since 2000, including two successful fish restaurants in Cornwall and Bath.

“In between that, I went to New Zealand for two years and worked with Michelin star chefs.”

The couple took the decision to close Café Catalan last month because it became too busy.

“We were turning customers away every weekend, which is turning away money” Paul said. “We ran out of storage space as well.

“We were only a small place with 34 covers. The Railway has 70 covers in the restaurant and bar for about 20.”

“Café Catalan completely bucked the trend compared to all these restaurants which have been closing because they cannot meet their targets.”

The couple are going to keep the name the same because the building is a historic landmark in Honiton.

Paul added:” If we did change the name, people would still refer to it as the ‘former Railway’.

“We are going to take over the old Railway website, and will even try and keep the same phone number.”

Paul said there has been a great reaction in Honiton to his and Beth’s latest venture, with many people stopping in the street to congratulate them.

The couple are aiming to reopen the Railway in the first week of June.

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