Town pub revamped as carveries prove a hit

Michell Holbrook and Andi Parr

New manager at the Royal Standard, Michelle Holbrook, pictured with chef Andi Parr. - Credit: Noah Vickers

A pub’s new manager has discussed the challenges of taking on a new business following lockdown, and on her plans to develop the pub over the coming months.

Michelle Holbrook, became manager at Dereham’s Royal Standard in April, and has set about giving it her own stamp. 

“It [the virus] devastated everywhere… It was a horrible shock to the economy," she said.

"I think everyone’s life was structured around their job, and once that structure was taken away, you’ve got nothing left."

The Royal Standard, located on Baxter Row, Dereham

The Royal Standard, located on Baxter Row, Dereham - Credit: Noah Vickers

While the owner of the pub’s building has not changed, the lease-holder has.


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After the building had been left empty for a year following the outbreak of the pandemic, Michelle said: “It needed a very good clean.”

Fresh coats of paint were applied and carpets vacuumed. 

The Royal Standard interior

The Royal Standard interior - Credit: Noah Vickers

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“Everything was being scrubbed: the floors, the carpets, the glass-shelves, the dishes, the glass-washer, the kitchen, everything… It was about a three-day job,” she added.

The Royal Standard's outdoor space

The Royal Standard's outdoor space - Credit: Noah Vickers

“Everything was just so sticky, because it had been closed since end of business [last year] - the cobwebs were hanging from the beams.” 

Ms Holbrook, who previously worked at the King’s Head in Dereham, said it had always been her dream to work in the pub industry, and had several plans to improve the Royal Standard’s offering.

The Royal Standard carvery serving area

The Royal Standard has started running a carvery on Sundays - Credit: Noah Vickers

“We’ve now got a carvery on Sundays. We started two Sundays ago," she said.

"The first Sunday we sold out, and the second Sunday we’ve just sold out again by doing 15 more than the previous Sunday, so word-of-mouth is now slowly getting around.”

The Royal Standard pool table

The Royal Standard offer pool and have acquired a TV to host the Euros - Credit: Noah Vickers

“It’s an unlimited carvery, so you can go up for your main meal as many times as you like, so if you leave hungry, that’s your fault!” she added.

Royal Standard sign, Dereham

The Royal Standard sign, at its building on Baxter Row, Dereham - Credit: Noah Vickers

In August, the pub is holding a beer, cider and sausage festival - with 18 real ales and 12 different ciders, plus different sausages from across the world. 

The Royal Standard, located on Baxter Row, Dereham

The Royal Standard, located on Baxter Row, Dereham - Credit: Noah Vickers

Live music has been brought back to the venue, and when coronavirus restrictions allow for microphone-sharing, the pub hopes to run karaoke nights. 

Michelle Holbrook, new manager at the Royal Standard

Michelle Holbrook, new manager at the Royal Standard - Credit: Noah Vickers

“We’ve also got a TV being delivered so we can host the Euros… we’ve got a lot of plans!” she said.

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