Roger was born in Killamarsh; he was schooled here, worked at both collieries in the town before they closed. He has also run The Crown, a successful community pub, with his wife Linda, since 1992.
You’ve run The Crown since 1992 and haveseen a lot of changes; what achievements are you most proud of?
“Just keeping the pub going in what has been really difficult times is probably our biggest achievement. Things became particularly hard after the recent financial crash, and we’ve had to be constantly looking into different things and adapting the way we run the place.”
What trends do you see happening in the pub industry?
“That’s difficult. It’s an ever changing industry! I think that more and more we need to see the pub as a product, and think about how we market and develop that product. Looking at specifics, there has been a resurgence on gin, and also, because there are more women coming to pubs now, and a focus on food, getting your wine offer right is crucial.”
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to new Publicans?
“Never sell your property, keep that as your pension but live at the pub; be involved, don’t be an office landlord – customers want to see you out there behind the bar, and staff need to know that you’re fully on board.”
And what about training, have you made that a priority?
“We’ve completed some Punch training, in fact I’d like to do more of that, it was very useful. We always share the Punch DVD’s with staff and we have put several through their personal license now. We teach our staff to treat customers like friends – learn their names and give them service that they would be happy to receive themselves.”
You have a food offer here, but essentially you are still a community pub, how do you marry the two?
“We started to do food when things got tighter financially, we needed an added revenue stream on top of the drinks and it was obvious what we had to do. The last few years food has grown slowly but successfully we put an emphasis on quality and value; it’s basic home-made pub grub, but it’s a good quality and if a customer wants a chip butty, we’ll do one for them!”
You and Linda appear to play a big part in the local community, how do you manage to do that through the pub?
“We have such a variety of different customers – so we try to cater for all of them in one way or another – we do a quiz night, and you’ll get a certain type of person in for that, and then we also have a games team, a footy team, a golf society, a poker night; the fact is that one group of people won’t fill your pub, so you have to offer a lot of different events and things that customers can join in.”
If money were no object, what would you do to the pub?
“I wonder if, in the past we would have benefited from a total revamp, the bar really is too small, and I’d love to make the beer garden bigger.”
Roger and Linda have a great pub in the heart of a town that has seen more than it’s fair share of struggles, but they’ve made it work with a combination of hard work and dedication to the community. Here’s to another 24 years!