Who’s behind the bar at the Ship Centurion?

Roland Birks is the owner of The Ship Centurion in Whitstable Town Centre he spoke to Jodi Eeles about the pub and the issues he has had during lockdown!
Tell us a little bit about The Ship Centurion
The Ship has been established for many years but we took over the reigns in 1995, since then we have maintained a German and English twist on the British pub. We pride ourselves on our array of different beer and food that you won’t find in many places, from local cask ales to pilsners.
We serve German-style food from passed down recipes alongside English classics. We are very lucky to feel like the heart of a community that we aim to let everyone feel welcomed by.
What are you looking forward to most after lockdown?
Honestly? Just seeing all our friends again, a lot of things have been lost throughout the past year and just to be able to have everyone come together in a safe environment will be brilliant. I miss our customers very much and would love to have them back safe and smiling.
How will you keep your customers safe on their return?
We spent many weeks before reopening during the March lockdown prepping to keep our clientele safe, and that is something we will continue to do so. We have a one-way system in place and our staff have worked tirelessly to wipe down every table and chair after usage. We have perspex all around the bar and now have disposable menus and single-use sauce sachets. Although it was hard work, we will carry on as before and if we need to, we will put more precautions into place.
Why did you open your business in Whitstable?
Although my father was German, my mother is English, her family had always lived in Whitstable. My parents had the Bear and Key (now Prezzos) but they decided to leave and we moved back to Germany for many years, until we needed to return to help my grandparents. It was only natural that we would enter back into the hospitality trade as we loved it so much and luckily we managed to buy The Ship. I jumped straight into bar work and 25 years later I’m still here.
What has kept you busy over lockdown?
I haven’t stopped. I have three young boys that never fail to keep me busy. In between homeschooling, dog walking and bike riding, I am still very preoccupied with the pub. We are still doing what we can to keep our customers involved. So I am usually doing a delivery, cleaning the lines or just keeping everyone updated.
How can customers support you right now?
We are currently doing home deliveries Thursday’s 3.30pm – 7pm and Sundays 12pm – 4pm. We have been making a lot of homemade dishes to fill your freezer, such as beef casserole, fish pies etc. and hot foods such as scampi and chips, bratwurst and chips and more! Our Sunday roast dinners have gone down an absolute storm and we are really happy at how well they have been received.
During our delivery days we also open as a takeaway selling hot drinks and food, which are freshly made for you right from our front door. We are assessing the current situation every week and when we feel it is safe to do so we will hopefully open more days during the week.