Saturday, 29 March 2014

Lazy Saturday

Don't make me laugh................ I've almost forgotten what it's like to have lazy days, but trust me we are certainly not complaining!!

Today is at last the day of Tims BIG celebratory birthday (it involves the no 6!!!) so the food orders stop at 2.30 and we close the doors at 4.  Friends and family are arriving from all over: Scotland, Wales, Hampshire, Cornwall etc, etc. 

Tim is immensely popular - not hard to understand really as he is one of life's gentlemen and the nicest, kindest and most lovely man I've ever known in all my life! I just hope that all my hard work at organising this and all the other Birthday surprises pay off! So off to London next week for 3 days and then back to London for the 9th and the judging for Licensee of the Year 2014- my nerves are going to be frazzled by then.

As a business we have had yet another amazing week having been awarded the Taste of the West Gold award.  This is hugely prestigious and awarded because of the local provenance, quality of food (cooking & presentation) customer service and ambience - amongst a load of other things! Last year we were awarded Bronze and I was really miffed (if you look back at old posts you'll see I phoned a friend and opened the wine - in the lunch hour at home!!)
BUT - as always, once I'd calmed down I took the critique on board and we worked hard to achieve what we received this week!

Right, I'm off and unlikely to blog again this week - so be kind to each other and see you soon,

Liz x

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Spring is sprung

Great Pic from Scot Baston
And it looks like I've sorted out not being able to put pictures on the blog - it was something to do with Google...............??? I've installed Chrome-something-or other and it seems I've turned into a computer genius!!! Oh I am pleased - blogs are so flipping boring without pictures!! 

So the picture opposite is from a couple of years ago and is from Scot Baston a local photographer who's not only a lovely man but is also very talented and this is from some great shots he did of the pub and garden. 

Talking of which - the garden at the pub looks NOTHING like this yet!!! The benches have been painted, as have the seats we bought from the old Tides Reach Hotel, as has the play area fencing - only the 'Boat-Henge' to do.  SOH has seeded the grass area again, but it gets so much foot fall I'm not sure that short of shutting the pub garden for 12 months that we're ever going to have much success in getting the grass to take any better than it does....????  Planting will start round about May time to ensure we have a nice riot of colour ready for our summer visitors. 

We had a really lovely surprise this week when we received a letter from the British Institute of Innkeepers telling us we are national finalists in the Licencee of the Year 2014 - we are one of only 6 in the whole of the UK!!! It's a massive honor for us, and also for our absolutely amazing team.  We go to London on the 9th April to be judged by three panels of industry experts and from that along with what the two judges have written about us (from their visit to us a couple of weeks ago) they will make a decision as the overall winner which will be announced on the 13th May at the huge annual lunch held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.  All I have to do is hold my nerves in check and remember not to talk to much (steady!!!). 

In the meantime, trade has rocketed following the re-furb and I desperately need another Chef de Partie, full time AND permanent to join our great kitchen team. You will also be seeing several new faces front of house as we grow our team their to help look after all our lovely guests and we have been so fortunate to have great people want to join us. Photo's definitely will follow!

Its a big birthday for SOH week after next and a huge party is planned for the weekend, followed by three days of surprises I've been planning for him for months - of which I'll tell you all about as and when they've happened! 

I'm off now - thoroughly delighted I've sorted out the photo issue on this blog (would have been a nightmare starting a new one on a different platform) and I look forward to being able to blog again more regularly..................... 

Much love 

Liz xxx

Saturday, 15 March 2014

I'm sorry...............

I'm sorry its been a while since I wrote a blog, but I'm having the biggest headache ever trying to get pictures onto this blog - not just professional big pictures, but any pictures at all and I have no idea why!!!! So frustrating, because I have loads I'd love to share with you.

So where on earth has the last 6/7 weeks gone since we opened?? Well, an absolute flurry of activity is the answer! Firstly the 'soft' opening at the end of January was swiftly followed by the 'official' opening in the 2nd week of February with about 100 to 150 people coming through the doors to have a look at this amazing pub, and quite frankly we have barely paused for breath since then.

Our customers seem to absolutely love the transformation and we have had few weekends when we haven't been absolutely packed out and weekdays we have seen a phenomenal rise in numbers of customers - so, if you're thinking if visiting and would like to eat with us, then you really, really must book in advance 01548842604. Mothers Day and Easter weekend we already have a number of bookings!

We have been swiftly recruiting front of house staff and my goodness we've managed to get some great people who have all the key skills we look for, and now we've just decided to recruit another Chef de Partie to come and work in our kitchen. We're also keen to take on another Chef Apprentice this September. Our existing 2 young men have been brilliant, and have good careers ahead of them.

I may not be able to put pictures on here at the moment, but we had some amazing pictures taken for Google - to provide a 'Virtual' tour of the Vic - so hopefully, if you click on the following link, you should be able to see us in all our glory! (Hopefully),-3.767422,3a,90y,173h,90t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1s6YNTkYgifdQAAAQJPpizOw!2e0!3e2!6m1!1e1  I'd love to know what you think of the refurbishment..................???

We have met this week been judged for the national award of Licensee of the Year 2014 awarded by the BII. We have been shortlisted to the semi-finals but I would love for us to achieve finalist standards this time. The process is hugely rigorous and involved a 2 hour meeting in which they inspected the whole pub, then sat down with us and had a Q & A session where they looked at all our aspects of our business. We hope to hear as to how successful we've been in the next couple of weeks.

We have also been judged for this years Taste of the West award. I'm really hopeful we may get better than a Bronze award this year, but I always hope we'll achieve bigger and better every time we enter for anything! 

SOH is out in the garden as I type getting the garden up to scratch in readiness for the looming Easter holidays. Benches are being painted, the garden has been re-seeded and paint brushes are being used! The pub is also quite busy again - so on that happy note, I'll blog again when I can and by then I may have had the whole photo issue sorted out!

Liz x

Sunday, 9 February 2014

We're back!!

And so we are!! After 3 weeks of mayhem and madness, dust and noise, nervousness and downright excitement (mixed with a little/lot of trepidation) the doors of the Victoria Inn are open once again and my goodness, gracious me - we are looking BEAUTIFUL!!!
The whole building has been turned into a totally stunning looking pub - the meetings and planning have all been worthwhile! The architects vision coupled with our requirements for it to remain a traditional pub, not become a theme pub or a W********ons have worked out amazingly. The colours of muted greys, blues and burgundy coupled with wallpapers that are bookcases, travel trunks, maps of the world or Dutch blue plates all lead to a feeling of tradition yet the Vic seems  lighter and sophisticated.  The new Oak flooring upstairs gives a real warmth and depth, whilst the new curtains downstairs give a cool elegance.  The two mirrored walls give an illusion of space and light & just add a certain quirkiness.
The downstairs restaurant area is now rather grandly called the library room, and the upstairs dining area which was only ever used as an overspill is now a stunning space where you can drink a pint and watch the world go by looking out of the windows, sit on the sofas or comfy chairs and play with a myriad of games or just read the papers with a pint, a coffee or a bottle of wine.
Alternatively, you could choose to sit and have a fantastic meal - the ambience upstairs is now phenomenal as you get all the noise and bustle from downstairs and you get the calming views of the estuary or you can sit and look into the garden.  Or if you get the right seat on the sofas you can look down on the bar area............. the choice is endless!!   I will have some professional photos in a couple of weeks - but in the meantime. I hope these give you a flavour of our beautiful Victoria. Next blog will be all about the first couple of weeks and the official opening.
Much Love
Liz x

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Home run

So we're on the home stretch (fair wind/fingers crossed etc etc!!) for our lovely pub coming together and what you can see in this picture is the upstairs part of the pub being viewed from new HUGE French doors that will lead you straight out into the garden. Some of the lighting has been put on - all has come from reclaimed ships fixtures and fittings, and when you see the light fitting over the new stairs I promise you will be blown away by it!!

The whole pub is still pretty much a huge building site and as one one workman was heard to say 'There's not a blooming straight wall in the place'!!  But they are working incredibly hard and in shocking weather conditions that has definitely not helped them at all.  But where there has been a break in the weather then the painters have been out there and made full use of the dry weather.

My little peep holes that I created in the windowlened windows have proved very popular, and I think the workmen were a little surprised at all the interest being shown in their work.

Our own team have been in this week painting the Hobbit House as well as painting and cleaning garden furniture. The store room has been emptied and tidied and surprisingly quite a bit(at last) thrown out!!

I am now far from bored (see the last Blog) as things are really cranking up a gear and I suddenly have quite a lot to do, so I am unlikely to write another blog before we open - which we hope to do either the afternoon of the 29th or Thursday 30th January.

So, I hope you'll think of us and wish us all luck as we endeavour to get to our opening date. A bit of good weather wouldn't go amiss either!!!

Much love

Liz x

Sunday, 12 January 2014

I can't believe I'm saying this, but........

The pub with no name - or beer!!!!!
I am bored!!!! Bored!!!! Bored!!!! A whole week we've been shut, and whilst the first few days were nice lie ins and lazing around - NOW - I'm thoroughly and utterly bored!!!

Yes, a whole week we've been shut! On our last Saturday we had very little food but with creativity from my kitchen team we managed to serve 108 meals.......... SOH had worked the beers exceedingly well and we wasted only a little bit of one beer! So that went very well..........

The team turned up on the following day to strip out the pub and the designer and team with 2 small lorries took away every stick of furniture, bric a brack and countless photos, pictures and mirrors. Then, there we were with an empty pub........... very bizarre it was too! In 6 short hours the Vic went from a busy happy pub with bags of character to a cold and pretty unfriendly shell. We meanwhile, went to another pub in town and looked a bit sorrowful!

The builders turned up the following day on time and by day 4 the Vic was completely and utterly under their spell. Wires (dozen of the buggers) appeared from seemingly nowhere causing a not too small headache for Gary the foreman, walls were knocked down and first coats of paint were applied!
Walls were exposed at the back top of the old restaurant showing brickwork that had not seen light for many hundreds of years - some of which SOH has kept for a rockery in the pub garden.

The cellar has had some additional drainage put in so that SOH can clean it easier (bit of a pain its been - but as it's not my part of ship I can't confess to being awfully interested!) but he was like a child who'd experienced Christmas for the first time.

I popped my head in last week and have to say that I was totally and completely overwhelmed - not just by the fact its a massive building site, but that I can already see the amazing potential of how its going to look when it's finished. But apart from a site visit this week I'm going to stay away and you're not getting any more photos because actually I want to feel the joy of seeing it made over and I want you to experience it too. Also, because doing this blog from my home means I am using my new lap top and have not yet mastered art of putting more than one photo on!!!! So, if you really want to look at what's happening have a look at the Victoria Inn facebook. Sorry darlings!

So what else have I done this week?? Well, I've cleaned and tidied our kitchen cupboards at home, we've been out and bought paint etc for the Hobbit House which also has a makeover whilst we're shut - but we are doing that ourselves. We've also visited another St Austell pub; The Cornish Arms, where we had an amazing meal!

We also took the team out for the day on Wednesday.  We went to Plymouth Gin first which was brilliant - drinking Gin at about 11 in the morning was a bit harsh though....... then to Rockfish for brilliant Fish & Chips. An afternoons bowling with me screaming at the top of my lungs egging on the teams (as well as playing) and finally a so so meal at a chain restaurant in the Bowling complex.

We go on a bit of a buying trip for the pub this coming week as well as taking the chance to pop into Portsmouth and see my family. Menu stuff to do, paper to be sorted for printing menus on, staff uniforms to finalise etc, etc and etc...................

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Last day today!

Yep - that's it at last..... after months of talking about it, the day has finally come that we're closed from close of business tonight until (hopefully) the 29th/30th January in order for our re-furbishment to take place.

We've got a few Steaks, Burgers and Fish dishes left for tonight, but sod all else! A little bit of Dartmoor Ale left likewise, but otherwise SOH has been his usual fantastic self and got the ordering spot on!

All of the team is in tomorrow morning at 9 to start stripping out, boxing, sorting and packing with the removal lorries coming at 11 to take down the pictures, dismantle furniture and take everything away. The contractors come in at 7.30 Monday morning and with good luck and a fair wind the work will start.

Its been a slightly fraught couple of days as we came the closest ever to being flooded with the water ending just 7 feet approximately from our front door.............. the rest of the town was not so lucky with pictures of a local RNLI guy sailing his boat down the high street making Sky News!! However, as I say we were ok and received lots of messages asking and hoping that we were all ok!

Wish us well for tomorrow and we'll see you all soon,

Liz x

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