I'm going to ask for your tolerance while I just recall a few highlights in our year:
Firstly - there was the much talked about re-furb in January which went really quite well. The decision to put ourselves solely in the safe hands of the designers and team was well founded, although the mood board was well received by our customers I still couldn't help listening to those who said they thought we might spoil the Vic. Our managers at St Austell promised me that all would be well and that EVERYONE would want to sit upstairs............. I should have listened!! Because they were right!! The re-furb was every bit as beautiful as we hoped (and prayed it would be).
Its given us another 36 covers upstairs and the visual impact of the staircase as you enter the Vic is amazeballs!! The re-furb hasn't been without it's issues though, both physically in terms of having to have shut for a few days recently to have various bits re-done and re-painted and my temper has been stretched once or twice to a bit of a limit because of this, but we've also had to learn as a team how to deal with having another space to manage.
I have to say that our team have risen to that challenge brilliantly! We were able to increase our permanent team and also took on a couple of extra part timers. Even the cleaners had to adjust to a very different pub to keep clean - but all of them have been amazing. We have carried on with our management training to ensure we were all equipped to move with the changes, so huge thanks to Guy Arnold.
Our kitchen team also took some advice from a Michelin Chef Peter Gorton about tailoring our menu to increased numbers - all advice was gratefully received from everyone in the transition phase.
|Peter Gorton with the team|
Our apprentices went from strength to strength - sadly Blake has left us, but he's gone on to a AA rosette hotel,
Aaron collected a special award from his college and Megan our first ever front of house apprentice is showing huge promise and already receiving plaudits from her college.
There was also more storytelling from our resident writer and illustrator Mark who once again pulled in excited children and their parents who sat enthralled in the summer sun as stories were spun and dreams made.
We were incredibly thrilled to receive the very prestigious Taste of the West Gold award early this year - this was incredibly important to us as it reflects the local nature of our produce as well as our commitment to perfection.
Following on from that Tim (SOH) and I were placed in the top 6 Licensees of the country - although not winners (and yes I admit - GUTTED!!!) we felt we did really well to get to the top 6. The pic shows us gurning for a selfie - sober!!! You should have seen us at the end of the night!!
Following on from this we also won the Devon Life award for Best Family Friendly pub of the year. Again, this award was also important to us as customers had to vote for us to get us into the finals, and it proved to us that all our little touches like the A la Bark dogs menu (for which we've raised over £2k this year already) the children's toy boxes and menus (all home cooked and fresh, just like the grown ups) had all worked to increase our popularity.
Having an upstairs space has encouraged more Christmas parties to come to us this year, and we have been fully booked for NYE 2014 for a couple of months now - we even have a cancellation list!!
Somewhere along the line I've also lost well over 5 stone (although a glorious holiday shoved on over a stone and a half !) but no more the fat faced woman as you see in the picture opposite.
So all in all it's been an amazing year, it's not been without it's challenges, there have been times where we've sat and looked at each other exhausted and marvelled at what the Vic has become, but there has been much laughter, some frustration, and a massive pride at what we have ALL achieved.
On that note, Tim, myself and every single one of the Victoria Inn team wish you our customers, all of our friends at St Austell brewery and all of our suppliers every best wish for 2015 and I hope Father Christmas brings you all you ask for.
I hope you'll continue to follow my blog in 2015,
Much love and blessings to you all