Saturday, 23 February 2013

A Pub Landladys (real) Life

I have to say that being a self employed business person (especially a Licensee) is NOT what everyone often thinks it is............Right now, for various reasons, its all proving a bit vexatious as well!

But there's a common misconception that 1) You 'just' pull pints, 2) you're loaded and can take long leisurely holidays basking in the sun (I wish) and 3) other people do the work!!!

Its incredibly hard to try to put into words what a normal working week is like - because in any one day things can change so quickly.

A member of staff doesn't come in for their shift, a piece of kit breaks down, something suddenly becomes urgent and suddenly your day is not your own.  That's why I've taken to coming in really early again on a couple of days of the week - that couple of hours before the staff, then customers come in is really precious and I always seem to achieve loads more than when we're open for business.

Now that in itself is a thin line to tread............... customers like to see the Landlady or Landlord behind the bar or walking around - and actually, I too like to be front of house. It helps me keep my finger on the pulse of our business - I like to check that all's well in the Victorias world, and that staff are working as they should and customers are happy.

But armed with that I also have to do all the HR work - so recruiting, contracts, monitoring etc, etc, then also the Communications / Media / Publicity stuff. Checking on Trip Advisor and other sites - replying and updating details, and then doing the same on our website. We're working on new front of pub signage - the pics are what our great friend Mark is doing for us.  I also work with James our Head Chef on a regular basis to discuss and plan menus - we change our main menu's every single month and we're already planning the Summer menu! 

Then there's entering for the competitions that are so important for keeping the profile of our business high, both nationally and more importantly locally - they can be an absolute nightmare! What else?? Oh yes, trying to keep a house looking less like one of those awful hoarder programmes on TV and instead a peaceful (clean) oasis of calm, (Thank the Lord for our lovely Amelia who comes in once a week) keep a marriage going (not always easy when you live, sleep, eat, breath together for 24 hrs every day - our last conversations at night are almost always of the business!) having 2 lovely little dogs and being able to walk them ourselves and not relying on our lovely friends, and trying to find time to go and see my family................

So being a pub landlady is NOT just pulling pints and saying 'hello darling' - it's so much more and there are many times (like in any job) when it's fun and I love it, but there are also times when I sit nursing a cup of tea (or very occasionally a large glass of wine) at the end of the day and wonder why on earth I'm here!

Re-reading that last bit it sounds like I do all the work in the business - I most certainly don't - SOH is the clever one of the two of us......... He does all the ordering, budgets ( keeping costs as low as possible) bank stuff, wages, cellar work, wine lists, minor repairs, lifting and shifting etc etc etc. He is the solid backbone of our business - whilst I am the face (and front) of it.

But right now, I am working on some pretty exciting stuff - and more importantly - I'm really enjoying it! We're hoping to have one, possibly two young apprentice chefs in our kitchen very soon and that for me is very exciting. I want us to be able to give these young people the best possible start to their working life as well as receive fresh ideas and initiatives into our business.

Weve also taken a big step of having a huge recruitment drive. We already have our 3 chefs, but now (with customers numbers rising and serving food for 9 hours a day) we HAVE to take on more Kitchen Assistants, and front of house staff. So a likely addition of 7 permanent staff................ Yikes! Recruiting staff in this business is always an 'interesting' experience...!!! But, it does mean the more well trained permanent staff we have, the less we'll have to rely on summer staff.  

Then there is the impending 'summer' (please God - a bit of sun would be more than welcome!) season and all that this always entails. I do like making sure that we're fresh, we're offering great food at great prices and people like to keep coming back to us.  Our challenge this year is to grow our business even more - to expand on our food offering and to try to re-vitalise alcohol sales. 

We want to make much more use of our upstairs restaurant this year - so that also means making sure our menu reflects our ability to produce food quickly, efficiently and that it looks great! It also means re-designing our kitchen to cope with all the extra numbers............. another job for SOH!

On that note - I have to go, I have a contract to write......................... Laters X

Monday, 18 February 2013

Half term is here!

Half term is here and how lovely to see so many old friends returning, also pleased to say that we're really, really busy and have been for most of February! So please, if you want to eat with us phone us on 01548 842604 - just to be sure of a table - I hate to turn people away especially our regulars.

The loyalty card has been very well received and we continue to sign customers up to them. Serving food all day long from 12 - 9 p.m is proving very popular, especially with families. But if you think about it, when you're on your hols you don't want to be tied to eating when pubs and restaurants want you to eat do you?

Because we are so busy, and with an eye to an even busier summer again we are recruiting for front of house and also the kitchen, and for a country that has such high unemployment its not all as easy as you might think........ Three interviewees lined up to meetwith Chef on Saturday and only 1 turned up. Its so annoying when you go to the effort of engaging with a potential employee, telling them all about the business and what we are looking for etc etc and then not only don't they turn up they also can't be bothered to let you know beforehand!  Aaarrgghhhhhh........

But, we do have a couple of potential new people for the kitchen, an apprentice (maybe 2) and maybe as many as 3 for the front of house. We know for sure that 2 of last years summer staff are coming back (yay!!) and I have recruited 2 holiday homes owners youngsters to do a bit of 'running' in the garden. Their parents were delighted - the daughters slightly less so!!

The weather has turned beautiful and sunny here in Salcombe for half term, but flip me sideways its cold!!! The wind again today has been absolutely raw, so once again, customers very grateful for our fire still blazing away!

The picture above is of a fund raising event for (and by) the RNLI - Rob (at the front of the boat) was taken out to a covered Dinghy just off the Lifeboat where he spent 24hrs on his own. Last count I was told they had raised over £3k - great isn't it, and such a worthwhile charity.

SOH and I had our last proper 'jaunt' week before last flying up to Scotland and then bringing our new car back down. Nightmare journey flying up - how I detest flying these days - with a couple of stops on the way back: The fabulous Bulls Head at Repton - an award winning pub, and then my Christmas present from SOH - Dinner at the Hand and Flowers in Marlow.
This is a 2 Michelin Star pub and the only pub to hold 2 stars, and I can only say that it was sublime!!  Needless to say, I am finding it difficult to get back on track on my diet..............