Ever since I was little, my mum has talked about retiring to run a cafe on the coast somewhere. It’s a dream I’m sure many have, but for one couple—Bren Suhr and Philly Haydon—it came true after they met at a cricket match on Jersey in the late 1990s.
One thing led to another and before long, Suhr was regularly travelling between his job in England and the Channel Island to see Haydon.
“I was working in TV in London, and started commuting from here. I was spending four days a week in London and then living with Philly just up the road from Rozel,” remembers Suhr.
Haydon has always lived on Jersey and moved to Rozel, a beautiful, sun-swept fishing village on the north of the island, in the early 80s. When she met Suhr, she was a single mother and worked at a small cafe called The Hungry Man to support her son.
At the time, the cafe was nothing more than a hut on the end of a stone pier serving food to hungry cyclists.
“Philly had worked on and off here for the previous two owners. It was always her dream to take it on,” says Suhr.
After 15 years, Haydon was eventually offered the business from the retiring owner and decided to take it on with Suhr. For the last six years, the cafe has been the couple’s baby, and in that time, The Hungry Man has grown into a Jersey institution.
“Hungry Man has been a spot we’ve been going to since our friends started being able to drive at 17. It’s an adventure to get to, it feels secluded and friendly and slightly back to a simpler time. There are always a bench to sit on and a place to park, unlike in town,” says Hannah Burrough, a local resident who’s been coming here for the last six years.
The cafe itself sits on the edge of Rozel Bay, surrounded by nothing more than sheer rock cascades, oyster beds, and scattered architecture left from the German occupation of Jersey during World War II. It’s a quiet spot, and there are little more than 50 houses in the area. But day after day, week after week, The Hungry Man bustles with tourists and Jersey locals.
The cafe is known for its fresh crab sandwiches, local Jersey burgers, and hot chocolate.
“Our philosophy is simple: provide for the community, cook our food from scratch, and do it properly,” says Suhr.
This might seem straightforward, but being the off-shore tax haven of choice for many wealthy City workers, Jersey’s dining scene can feel like an exclusive club. It’s rare to find community-driven places like The Hungry Man.
The cafe was opened in 1947 as The Copper Pot by an eccentric woman who locals remember sporting a bright red beehive. Back then, occupation had only just ended and memories of parsnip coffee, carrot tea, and rationing packs were still heavy on locals’ minds. The cafe signalled a new era in post-War eating.
Today, The Hungry Man boasts bright seaside-inspired artwork from local painter Eddie Blampied and a solid menu of breakfasts and burgers served in their famous Portuguese buns.
Come summer season, it’s a struggle to find a place to sit amongst The Hungry Man’s few Formica tables. The cafe itself is barely five metres wide, and most of the seating is outside and exposed to elements. But at peak time, there are streams of people queuing for fresh crab sandwiches, local Jersey burgers, and the Island-famous hot chocolates.
“We get people who come from the airport straight to the Hungry Man, we get people who come on boats over from Normandy coming for the day to come to the cafe, and we get the hourly bus rush during the summer, where people get dropped from the ferry down into Rozel,” says Suhr.
Suhr and Haydon do their best to use local produce, and only employ people who live here long term, providing a much needed source of year-round employment to people under 25.
A famous Hungry Man breakfast sandwich with Portuguese bun.
The Hungry Man’s lettuce, cucumbers, cress, and tomatoes are all Jersey-grown. As is the Jersey Local Burger, a 6-ounce beef burger that comes from cows reared only a few miles away.
“The same product anywhere else in Jersey—we charge £5.90—you’d pay double that elsewhere,” says Suhr.
The Hungry Man is not fancy in any sense. You come here for proper, smack-up grub, the same way you’d go to a greasy spoon over a nice Italian. It’s comforting, nourishing food.
For Suhr and Haydon, The Hungry Man is living their dream. Not only do they serve hundreds of happy diners everyday, they live the life my mum and many others aspire to.
“You arrive at half seven in a morning, the tide is perfectly calm. I think about the fact I used to take the Tube for over an hour to get to work,” says Suhr, “It’s the pure simplicity of it that I love the most. People come back to us and say, ‘You do the best bacon roll.’ That to me is the most satisfying thing.”