With a head for business and a heart for aviation, Richard Blain couldn’t resist the opportunity of taking on a semi-derelict hangar at Redhill Aerodrome and turning round its fortunes.
Richard is, it’s fair to say, an aviation nut. “Flying is in my blood. My dad had a bi-plane and I was in the Air Training Corps as a teenager. Through the ATC I had my pilot’s licence at 17; afterwards I spent 23 years as an adult instructor, bringing ATC cadets into the world of aviation.” You see, quite the fan.
As a regular at the airfield, he always thought the 18,000sq ft hangar – built in 1934 it was the first on the site – a good spot for a restaurant. In May 2014 his vision came to fruition and today it’s a bustling, buzzing, whirring hive of activity with offices, aeroplanes and engineering facilities along with the main attraction, The Pilot’s Hub Brasserie and Coffee House.
Since then this most unique of eateries has really taken off, building a formidable following on social media, satisfying many happy customers and giving them the unusual experience of walking off their meal by wandering around the aircraft in the hangar: you don’t get that at TGI’s.
Open daily from 8am The Pilot’s Hub vaunts a mean menu of freshly made food from big breakfasts and steak sandwiches to veggie burgers and warm salads. There’s also a wide selection of cakes made in the hangar kitchen, pastries from the nearby Chalk Hills Bakery and a range of homemade chutneys and jams.
But it’s the setting that nails it. While the interior is a cosy reminder of a 1930’s airmen’s clubhouse, it’s the outdoor terrace that really takes your breath away: directly fronting the grass with planes taxiing and flying right outside, it’s enough to blow your (wind)socks clean off.
The Pilot’s Hub
Hangar 9, Redhill Aerodrome
Redhill RH1 5JY