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‘Manor from heaven’ for Lincolnshire Chef Steven

LINCOLNSHIRE Chef Steven Bennett is back in the hotel business, joining Healing Manor as an in-house consultant.

‘Manor from heaven’ for Lincolnshire Chef Steven

Having left The Oaklands Hall Hotel in Laceby in a shock move just hours after being crowned Business Person of the Year by Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce in May, he and partner Charlotte Hay have joined Mark Brennan and his wife Molly at the picturesque former seat of Viscount Portman.

And it is hoped they can help realise the potential of the village gem, and make it a long-term passion, as well as potentially doubling the 40 employees as it cranks through the gears.

Mr Bennett said: “We want to bring the hotel up to the level it should be. In terms of the aesthetics, it is incredible, and to work with what Mark has created is great. It is unique.

“We are here to work with the staff, we are here to help increase the standards and work alongside the current team to make them better. We have our background, and we know the staff have to be at a level where people’s expectations can be surpassed, to succeed.

“It fits in very well as a profile, to take on the challenge, and deliver, and create a truly beautiful venue.”

A new kitchen is being installed this week, with an initial focus on the on-site pub, The Pig and Whistle, before a re-launch of the currently closed a la carte restaurant towards the end of September.

There are plans to build on provenance, including within the gates themselves, while also linking up with Grimsby Institute on the horticultural front.

A walk through the grounds has inspired Mr Bennett, who spent five years at The Oaklands, having gone from consultant to shareholding director in Laceby, and in doing so guiding it towards a double AA rosette status from the brink of closure, alongside fellow director Nigel Underwood and an initially wider team.

There a team of 73 was engaged in providing that service.

“I see no reason why we cannot double the staff in the next two years,” Mr Bennett said. “If we can make it successful it will be very good for Grimsby.”

Over four years Mr Brennan, a well-established property developer, has produced 36 rooms from the main house and stable blocks, with a dedicated function facility, The Barn, as well as large entertaining space again in the main building, is complemented by a lounge and the restaurant, opening up to the splendid grounds. He took it on after a chequered history saw  entrepreneur Kash Punji try and, admittedly, fail to realise that potential. 

For Miss Hay, herself a former Young Entrepreneur of the Year from the Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards that in 2017 honoured Mr Bennett, it is a return to the family village.

“I always looked at Healing Manor, well before Kash had it, and thought it would be great to get involved in. Now after the journey we have been on, we are in a position to be able to realise that.

“People are so desperate for it to work, and we are here to support that. This is about creating a long term business and life for us, that is the goal here.

“Mark wants the potential of this property to come to fruition, that’s all he wants. We are working alongside Mark, and Molly, who still own it. It came off the market, and we are in as the Lincolnshire Chef team to consult and try and make this place work.”

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