Neil Chilcott (affectionately known by most as Chilly) our General Manager will be 50 on November 17th and will have been at the Riverside for some 30 years. He was born and bred in Bradpole and went to school at Colfox but was less than an attentive pupil. His sister, Ninnie, had a job at the Riverside and Neil arrived aged 14 to do the potatoes and odd jobs. He stayed with us until he left school and then went to work away from Bridport in the construction industry. Whilst in Sussex he met his wife to be, Sarah.
He decided that a life on the road away from family and friends was not for him and he returned with his wjfe. The Riverside was his first port of call and he was employed as a general help. However this did not challenge him and he wanted to learn the skills in all the different departments. He assisted the chefs, helped in the front of house and became extremely proficient in the fish preparation area and presentation. Year by year he climbed the ladder towards his natural goal which was management and he has filled this role for more than 10 years.
His unique character and ready sense of humour have made many friends with customers and also in the wider community. He is at present serving as Chairman of the Bradpole parish Council, Vice-Chairman of the Bridport Leisure Centre, an organiser of the Table Skittles league and a lifelong ( at present-sad ) supporter of Manchester United and has travelled many a mile to see them play. During our winter closure, he and Sarah take the opportunity to travel and have been to Florida, Cuba, Mexico, India, Italy and we have even had a phone call from the banks of the Nile as he was enjoying a mug of tea!
Over the 30 year period, Chilly has learnt Management skills and runs most aspects of the restaurant but is ably helped by his assistant, Nick Larcombe ( 20 years+ ), Head and sous Chef ( Tony Shaw and Eli Webb ), Wine expert Joe Taylor and his wife Helen and his long term colleague and front of house genius – Sue Turner ( 20 years+). During this time he has produced a family and his son Daniel has become a very important and able member of the team and daughter Stacey has also had spells at the Riverside.
Nobody imagined that Chilly would stay at the Riverside for 30 years but the variety of work, the meeting of people from all over the world and all walks of life, the 2 months of closure and the unceasing challenges that running a restaurant entails have kept him constantly engaged. As Chilly says ‘ We may not always get everything right but we never cease to try so that the customers keep returning’.
Chilly-a unique character who has done it on his own- his way!