Tuesday 18 February 2020

Interview with Hollow Bottom co-owner Hugh Kelly

SoGlos speaks to co-owner of award-winning Cotswold venue, The Hollow Bottom, about its unique charm, local food and exciting future plans.

Boasting a beautiful location in Guiting Power, stylish setting, innovative but classic menu, and its very own ‘beach’, the pub offers a great place to eat, drink and be merry – and can even give you a lift home!

Talking food, drink, and all-things Cotswolds, SoGlos speaks to Hugh Kelly, co-owner of favourite country pub, The Hollow Bottom.

Can you tell SoGlos readers a little bit about yourself, and your role at The Hollow Bottom?

I’m co-owner of The Hollow Bottom, 49 years old, and married with four children. I live in Cheltenham and love the town. I’m also a singer in a band, Brew 22, and love golf, rugby and football.

Are you originally from Gloucestershire, or did you move here – if so, why?

I’m originally from Scotland, spending my early years in Glasgow, and then in Inverness. I moved to the Cotswolds in 2001 specifically to take on The Hollow Bottom with my childhood friend Charlie Pettigrew, a fellow Scot and previous winner of Scottish Young Chef of the Year, who had been living in the area since early nineties.

What drew you to taking over The Hollow Bottom?

I first visited the Cotswolds in 1999 and fell in love with the area. Charlie and I had been looking for a suitable pub and The Hollow Bottom became available. The first time I entered the building it felt special, and it still does!

What were your visions for The Hollow Bottom, and how do you think you’ve helped to transform it since becoming co-owner?

At the time we wanted to set it apart from other venues by being open all day every day, and serving great quality food with a friendly, unpretentious service.

And it worked! We doubled the previous turnover in year one, and continued on an upward curve thereafter.

What sets The Hollow Bottom apart from other pubs in the area?

In 2001 we were unique, however the quality level of many pubs in the area has gone through the stratosphere since then. We have had to continually up our game.

Many pubs are now basically lovely restaurants within old pub buildings, and some have lost the unique atmosphere of the pub; we believe that we have retained this important aspect.

How would you describe your menu, and which dishes are the most popular?

We have always managed to have a menu that will appeal to a wide range of people, appetites and current trends. The old pub classics like fish and chips never die, and neither do the chef specials. We revamp the menu twice yearly, and have recently included tapas and pizza.

Do you have a favourite dish from the menu?

I have never had a better steak than our 28 day-aged sirloin, but currently I love the herb-crusted salmon fillet, or our vegetarian linguine with wild mushrooms and garlic flatbread.

What emphasis do you place on serving food which is local and seasonal?

All of our suppliers are local and we will continue to support local trade; it is hugely important to us.

Can you tell readers a little bit about your beautiful beer garden?

‘The Beach’ is my baby. We built it in summer 2015 and modelled it on my favourite beach bar near Port Grimaud in the South of France.

There’s a sunken fire pit which is a popular place to sit with a bunch of friends and have a glass of Pimm’s, which we have on tap. There’s also a French boules pit at the bottom with a fully stocked ‘Beach Hut’ bar.

It has proved enormously popular. We cover it over in the winter to protect it, and it then transforms into a wonderful venue for all types of functions, including weddings.

What can guests expect from your accommodation?

We have five four-star rated rooms which are clean and modern, but still offer all the charm of the 17th-century building.

You’re located in the heart of the Cotswolds; what attractions await visitors in the area?

We are very close to Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park, Sudeley Castle and Bourton-on-the-Water, but to me, the Cotswolds offers such a beautiful attraction in itself, wherever you go!

Tell us about the pub’s racing heritage, and how you pay homage to this today?

We took over the pub from Nigel Twiston Davies and Peter Scudamore, and when the racing season is in full swing we’re a major attraction to the racing crowd.

We’re in the heart of the major training yards of Nigel Twiston-Davies, Jonjo O’Neill, Fergal O’Brien, Martin Keighley, Ben Pauling and Kim Bailey, along with many other smaller but successful training yards.

The Hollow Bottom is popular with many of the top jockeys and stable staff both past and present.

Can you tell us about The Hollow Bottom Bus?

The bus is available for anyone that needs to get home safely at the end of the evening, offering services all year round, within a 15 mile radius. It is also free!

You host a wide range of events – what do have planned for the near future?

We have regular events and parties, with details posted on our website, hollowbottom.com, and Facebook page, facebook.com/HollowBottom throughout the year.

This year we’re planning our first Oktoberfest on Saturday 30 September and Sunday 1 October 2017, which promises to be a brilliant weekend.

And finally, where’s your favourite place to eat and drink in the Cotswolds (apart from The Hollow Bottom, of course!)

Having lived here for 16 years I could name so many places that are all equally fantastic in different ways. Cheltenham has such an incredible variety of amazing venues, especially for the size of the town.

In The Cotswolds we’re spoiled for choice in every single village. It would be unfair to single one out as I’ve never had a bad experience, so I’m not going to!

For more information visit hollowbottom.com directly.

© SoGlos
Wednesday 21 June 2017

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