Thursday, 3 September 2009
Who turned the light out....?
THEN - as soon and as powerfully as it started - it's finished....... the 'season' that is! Honestly, it really is like someone turned a switch off in town. Just as quickly as we woke up and town was flooded with holiday makers some six or seven weeks ago its now suddenly quite quiet and a lot calmer! Spookily and bizarrely eery..........
The weather hasn't helped of course, yesterday it absolutely rained cats and dogs and today although it's been a lot drier you can feel a real autumnal nip in the air. Staff are looking and feeling really quite tired - but it's time now to refresh and re-charge our batteries (SOH and myself as well...) and look forward to the Autumn / Winter.
But first - how do I / we think the summer went?? On the whole I'm really positive, pleased and very grateful that our hard work paid off. The garden was used a lot more than I had thought it would be - I think advertising earlier in the year paid off dividends and the photo board outside the front of the pub really helped as well - as did the flower baskets on the pub.... we had lots of comments that it was this display that bought the customers in! I also think we had our menu more or less right as well - I believe there was a great choice, although I would have liked to see more choice of specials - but I take Chef's point that when we are doing 200 - 250 covers DAILY in the summer (on some days - even more than that!!) then its tricky - but we'll aim to do better on this front in the Autumn.
The bar / waiting staff did a great job in ensuring high levels of customer service, and given that there were times that there was hardly room to turn in the pub I think they did a grand job. However, staffing levels were a consistent problem - but again feedback from many customers has been that we had more available / visible staff than most of the pubs in Salcombe - but when the staff shortages hit - then they really hit us very hard and it all became very hard work to cover one sometimes tweo absent people, and I need to do some work on this area for the future. Delivering the volumes of food to the garden in the quantities we did was especially tough on the staff and the BBQ although a huge, fantastic, great success was again quite strenuous for the staff - and next year I must take that in to account when hiring staff.
The kitchen did a fantastic job of ensuring that all the food that came out of the kitchen was 1st class and I am very proud of them. I think I can count on ten fingers the complaints that were brought to me and considering the hundreds and hundreds of meals we served (probably in to thousands actually) then we're most happy with 'our boys'!
Tim got our beer orders just right and not once did we run out of a beer...........so especially well done to him for all the hard work he did in the cellar! Talking of beer we got 100% Cask Marque status again today - ey, he keeps a great cellar does my man!! X So all told - an absolutely fantastic first summer season - we've met some really great people and made friendships that I hope continue when our holidaymakers return to Salcombe in October (as promised by many!).
So whats my plan for the next couple of weeks then - well, firstly, it is to ensure staff take time off to get themselves back to full speed, many of the temporary staff have left and only the lovely Leah is staying for another few weeks. Then it's for US to get some rest and ensure we get back to a position of strength, and then I think we'll hopefully take a few days away in November for a proper holiday in the country. The Christmas party menu's have gone out to the relevant companies and organisations in Salcombe, I hand delivered most of them this morning in town and we have our Christmas display with Christmas and NY menu's in the door way as you come in to the Victoria.
I met with James our Chef this week and we discussed the Autumn / Winter menu - I'm not saying any more about it until we're ready to run with it - but I'll unveil it on the 1st October - suffice to say, we had a really big input in to it and I'm VERY pleased with it!!! Yummy..........
We'll have a staff meeting soon and get staff points of view as to how well or otherwise they think it went - and what suggestions they can make for the future. I'll go back over the customer service point of view and make sure we all work from the same viewpoint, and then heavens, we'll need to start thinking seriously about planning Christmas......
The coal-man has a shed load of our money and is ready to deliver us the coal as and when we need it over the winter and two great big deliveries of logs were also made to us this week - so we are ready for when the weather dictates us putting the fires up and started.
SOH and I are off to Cornwall tomorrow to have a look at a St Austell pub that has an awning as that's what we're aspiring to have at the back of our building. Even on wet horrible days, customers have wanted to sit outside and eat or drink and we think we could have a great 'al-fresco' space, but we'll see what we think tomorrow - and whether the vision lives up to the real thing!