Wednesday, 29 August 2012

New season........

As the summer season starts to draw to a close so a new season is upon us and new things coming to the Victoria Inn.

Today's been hugely exciting as we've made plans about the coming months and how we're going to operate, and one of the reasons I love my job as a landlady is that we never really stand still! We may well have just won a highly prestigious award and we have another couple in the pipeline - but at the end of the day it's YOU our customers who matter a lot to us. We want you to keep liking us and visiting us and more importantly like what we offer you!

SO - on that note here is whats coming up new at the Victoria Inn from the second week in September:

Firstly - A new menu - that almost goes with out saying. But only a little nod away from the summer menu. We'll still be having 3 great fish specials on our board, but coupled with great Fillet Steaks and other meat specials yet to be firmly decided. New, 8oz Burgers are going on the menu from the same Farmer who supplies our sides of Beef for steaks - we've tried them and they are gorgeous!

Secondly - we're going to be making our own 'Bloody Delicious' Ice-creams........... I use that wording as customers who have tasted the Ice Creams have used that expression on more than one occasion! Needless to say, we won't be marketing them as such!!

The Strawberries above?? Well, those and others like them are being made into Strawberry Jam and we have already made some amazing Orange, Lemon and Lime Marmalade's. Some of the Strawberry Jam we'll be making to serve with our Cream Teas but other jars will be for sale!  SOH has made them and is up to his elbows in peeling fruits as I type!! Chefs are making Plum Chutney, Spicy Tomato Chutney and our Red Onion Marmalade also to bottle and sell.

We're also bringing in a few little Teddies and other bits that epitomise the Victoria Inn experience as a trial and we hope you'll like them.

Lastly, the pub itself and the accommodation will be having a little makeover with some new cushions, candles, vases, etc, etc.  New re-painted boards for outside the pub as well. The staff are also going to be having a makeover with new uniforms and a brand new in-house training course bought in from the Academy of Food and Wine which we belong to.

So exciting times to give us all a bit of a lift after a hugely busy summer which has left us all exhausted, and the pub looking like its been trounced by hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of tourists............... oh yes! Of course..... It has!!!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sunday or Monday??

I don't know if its Sunday or Monday today............... all I do know is that it's Bank Holiday which means the summer (she says laughing at that quaint old fashioned word!) is almost over. 

One of our best sellers - Mussels from the River Teign
Summer at the Victoria Inn (and I guess for many of those in a seasonal trade such as ours) is very much a double edged sword! We all look forward to the Summer after long, cold and often wet winters - we look forward to it for very different reasons.

We look forward to a successful trade to keep us afloat over the rest of the year - clearly we don't stop trading outside of the summer, but it's nowhere near the figures / numbers we do right now.  The first couple of weeks this summer were a little bit worrying as the weather was ropey, the sun refused to shine, we had the Olympics with people staying at home to watch it and it all looked pretty grim really.

Then the Olympics finished, the sun came out to play a little and suddenly summer at the Victoria Inn was in full swing, and thankfully has continued to be so! Hence, right now we are all a bit jaded to say the least!!

After next weekend, the children will have returned to school with happy memories of their holidays, our student staff will return to university richer but thinner, and we (SOH and I) will breath a sigh of relief that despite all the staffing issues we've faced this season, we've still managed to turn it into one of our best summers ever since we've been here.  

Living by the sea and knowing a lot of the lifeboat crew as we do I always get the shivers when the lifeboat goes out, but you absolutely have to watch this video of a rescue just round the coast from here and with 3 local people crewing the boat: Sam, Matt and Esther. You will realise the bravery of those involved with the lifeboat particularly in the last 30 seconds of the film clip!

Try to remember that when you go on holiday and you think you'll take out to sea in your RIB or on your water board have fun, but remember that the sea is an incredibly dangerous place - and that if you need rescuing, other people are putting their lives at risk.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Raining Cats, Dogs & Children

My goodness aren't we having some strange old weather - drew the curtains back this morning and it was like looking at a November day!! Yet outside my office window now it's bright sunshine.............

We had the Town Regatta in Salcombe last week and the weather was less than kind it has to be said - but it certainly bought the crowds here! It's undoubtedly a very strange season, Salcombe is nowhere as busy as it should be - but somehow here at the Victoria we are managing to keep on top of our targets. 

I say somehow - but I almost do ourselves a disservice saying that. We're doing it because we work flipping hard at what we do and it's not all about the front of house stuff that customers see us doing - the pulling pints and delivering food, its also about the ordering, staffing, menus, finances, social media stuff (we all know I spend hours doing that!) plus loads more that I never knew you needed to do to make a pub work! Now we have our third Chef Stuart we are able to serve food all day long and it has to be said that its proving very popular!! Amazingly we are serving everything from Fillet Steaks to Cream Teas in the afternoon so it's a proving to have been a good business decision. 

Staffing has proved to be very challenging again this summer with young people saying 'yes please - give us the hours' and then unable to complete more than a couple of shifts without not coming back! So luckily our front of house core full time staff have stayed strong, supplemented by college kids; Alex, Honor, Tom and Austin and supported by some even younger people Will, Lucy and lovely Lily. Somehow, we're getting through the summer together. The kitchen is running with a staff of 7/8 and the food coming out has been absolutely first class! I overheard a customer last night say that she's eaten a lot of Mussels - but none as good as ours!

Also, at last we're No 1 on Trip Advisor............... taken me almost 4 years to get there but we've done it!

AAfteAlready we're looking to the Autumn and we will be bringing in our brand new Autumn menu the 2nd week in September and we have lots of new ideas for it as well - so watch this space! Once the summer crowds have gone we shall be spending a little bit of money to freshen up the pub and also new menu and wine list holders, as well as some other bits and pieces to generally spruce us up. Bit pointless at the moment with so many hundreds of people travelling through our pub at the moment. The pic opposite is one of the better tables left after a family had been there......... :)

On that note - it's good to see our children's menu doing so well again this year - parents really appreciate that their children can have the same great quality food as themselves! Perhaps an especially good place to say thank you to our 2 cleaners as well that work hard all year but especially so in the summer - Jackie and Demitrou! They do stirling work in keeping us sparkling clean every single day.

Had some great dogs in over the last couple of weeks - this is one of my favourite dogs: A beautiful retired Greyhound - I think her name is Cat?  
But we've had some other beautiful dogs in as well - lots and lots of Cockerpoos, a smattering of Labradors, my favourite Alsatian Colin has been in as well.  A dog biscuit for the good (dogs are never less than good) and a titbit from the kitchen for the very good!  

I'd have liked to not see any dogs here in Salcombe for the fireworks but some very thoughtless owners did bring their dogs, and needless to say there were a few screaming dogs in town! We ushered one into our pub and shut the door and I don't know who was most upset by it; Us, the dogs young owner or the dog itself. Poor thing was so distressed that it peed and then even the obligatory slice of ham that was proffered was ignored. Still, lessons learnt hard way etc etc.....just a shame the owners of all the screaming dogs hadn't shown their little friends a bit more thoughtfulness.  

So there you go - a quick round up of where we are here in Salcombe - I am personally on a diet to try and get a bit leaner and fitter and of course a posh frock to get into for the Great British Pubs award ceremony in September, but so far so good!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

We're the Best in the West

Ladies & Gentlemen, I'm proud to tell you that we have been awarded the Best Tenanted / Leased Pub in the West Country in the Great British Pub Awards from the Publicans Morning Advertiser - a huge and influential trade paper.

After a little episode of feeling quite down about things business wise this has given us all a great lift to our morale.  We now go forward to the National Finals in September in which we hope that we will be awarded to best in the Country in our Category and the chance to be the Best Pub In the UK!!! This will be a very glitzy affair in Park Lane, London and we'll be taking two of out team with us to say thank you and make sure they can join in the fun and glory of it.

Then today we received a phone call to say we've been shortlisted to be in the English Riviera and South Devon Tourism and Hospitality Awards. This would be a great local award to win and means as much as the national one - so fingers crossed on all fronts!  

On top of that, we have at last recruited our third Chef to work with us! Hooray at last!!!!! Ive been trying to recruit for at least three months now, spent an absolute fortune, wasted time and energy interviewing people who just weren't up to joining us. I am quite exacting in keeping our standards high - we have a big reputation to live up to - so I have been sure to employ someone who can cook to our expected levels and also fit in with our established kitchen team. His name is Stuart and he joins us proper from Friday and it means that from Sunday 5th August, we will be able to do food ALL DAY and EVERY DAY from 12.00 to 9.00 at night................. How fantastic is that! Photo's and more bio about him in the next blog.

So three really exceptionally great things have happened here at the Victoria Inn this week, and suddenly the world seems a rosier place.

Just before I go, here's a photo of some superb veg from our new Rational Steamer / Oven,a mix of Green Beans, Mange Tout, Baby Sweet Corn and Sweet Bell Peppers, they smelt divine as they came out of the steamer and our customers are loving them!!!