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New ownership of Cowlinge pub could see a flavour of South Africa added to the menu




Visitors to the Three Ways pub and restaurant in Cowlinge could in a few weeks time be able to sample a few South African culinary favourites after the business was bought by new owners.

Basie and Ellie van Rooijen, who were both born and raised in South Africa, took over the ownership of the 300-year-old property last Thursday following the retirement of Chris and Sue Smith, who had owned it for 14 years.

The couple moved to Haverhill from South Africa in 2016, choosing the area because of family connections.

Basie and Ellie van Rooijen have bought the The Three Ways pub and restaurant in Cowlinge and are opening it this Saturday. Picture by Mecha Morton
Basie and Ellie van Rooijen have bought the The Three Ways pub and restaurant in Cowlinge and are opening it this Saturday. Picture by Mecha Morton

Having lived in Watford between 2000 and 2010 – during which time she cooked every week for a friendship group for older people – Ellie admitted she had ‘always wanted’ to move back to the UK.

The couple had been looking for the right pub to buy when the Three Ways came on the market.

Having moved in only last Thursday, they will officially open the pub on Saturday – and with the business being established and in good shape say they don’t intend to change very much.

Sue and Chris Smith, the previous owners of The Three Ways pub in Cowlinge, pictured in 2015
Sue and Chris Smith, the previous owners of The Three Ways pub in Cowlinge, pictured in 2015

“We are going to stick to the opening times as it is and the menu as it is but as soon as we are settled into the rhythm of things we will look to introduce some traditional South African meals,” said Basie.

Among the menu wish-list is bobotie, a dish made with minced lamb and topped with a layer of egg custard and served with a chutney and yellow rice.

Basie, who in his homeland was once a partner in a successful roadhouse (restaurant) in Boksburg, near his home city of Johannesburg, also hopes at some point to start doing some traditional South African-style barbecues, known as braai.

And the couple have already had a warm welcome from the locals.

Ellie, who also has ambitions of holding a weekly friendship club in the pub for older people, said: “They were all very happy to meet us, it’s a very warm friendly community, so it’s really lovely and we look forward to serving them.”


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