A new General Manager is welcoming guests to historic Shepherd Neame hotel The Dog and Bear in Lenham.
Fraser Pearson, 48, brings a wealth of experience to the role as he has worked in the hospitality industry since his early 20s. He also knows the area well as he grew up in Rochester and has run a number of pubs and hotels in the county, most recently The White Lion in Tenterden and before that The Chiltern Hundreds in Maidstone.
The father-of-three said: “I first began working in pubs as a part-time job when I was at university in Coventry. I studied Electronics and Telecommunications and intended to be an engineer, but after I finished my degree I realised that I wanted to continue working in the hospitality trade. I’m an outgoing person and I particularly love the social aspect of working in pubs, being part of a team and meeting new people every day. I trained with Whitbread, and went on to manage a number of premium pubs and hotels around the South East.”
Built in 1602, The Dog and Bear retains historic character features while also providing all the modern comforts you would expect from a contemporary hotel, with its 24 en-suite bedrooms recently stylishly refurbished. It is located in the centre of Lenham, overlooking the picturesque village square, and is perfectly placed for guests to explore local attractions including Leeds Castle, just a 10 minute drive away, or the beautiful surrounding countryside of the North Downs.
The hotel is dog-friendly, welcoming well-behaved pets in the bar and offering a number of rooms where guests can stay with their dogs, including one with its own private courtyard. The hotel also has a function room which can cater for up to 50 people.
Fraser said: “Having grown up in Kent, I always aspired to work for Shepherd Neame, particularly at The Dog and Bear as it is such a beautiful site with a fascinating history. I was thrilled to be chosen to take over from Brian and Anne Hogg, who retired after managing the site for 15 years. They were incredibly well-known in Lenham so I was aware that I had big shoes to fill, but all the local residents and businesses have been very welcoming.”
Fraser moved into the hotel in March, just a couple of weeks before it closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He took the time during lockdown to make some improvements including revamping the courtyard, which now offers table service, and working with Shepherd Neame’s property team on adjustments to the hotel’s layout and installing protective screens and safety signage to ensure the site is Covid-secure.
He said: “It was a very strange time as I was just starting to settle in and then we had to close. But and when we reopened last month it felt like a fresh start. Shepherd Neame has done everything possible to help us ensure the health and safety of our team members and customers, and we have been overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback we have received during the past few weeks.”
The hotel is renowned for its delicious food offer, including traditional favourites such as sirloin steak and chips, Shepherd Neame beer-battered cod and chips and burgers including the new soya Oumph! vegan burger. Daily specials are offered, and all ingredients are sourced locally wherever possible, including fruit and vegetables from Maidstone’s RJ Kingsland & Son, seafood from Chapman’s of Sevenoaks, and meat from Joseph & Henry in Ramsgate.
Fraser added: “These are unusual times, but our aim at The Dog and Bear remains the same as ever: to provide every customer with a fantastic experience, whether they stay with us, dine with us or pop in for a drink.”
The Dog and Bear Hotel is open every day, and serves food from 12 noon to 3pm and 5pm to 9pm Monday to Friday, 12 noon to 9pm on Saturday and 12 noon to 8pm on Sunday.
For more information visit www.dogandbearlenham.co.uk or call 01622 858219.