And what kind of customer does the pub attract?
“95% of the people who walk through our doors are locals, they come here regularly; either from the local village or up from Hillsborough which is just down the road. Then there’s a small selection of walkers who come here on the way to or from the Peak District.
“There’s an amazing community spirit in the pub; so much so, in fact that we don’t need to organise our own events; a group of around 10 regulars do it all for us. They took charge early on and we were happy to let them. So far, they’ve been responsible for the weekly quiz, a children’s party at Christmas and at Easter, and even a beer & music festival.”
What did you do when you first stepped into the pub?
“Punch committed to a much needed refurbishment, which we were heavily involved in. We have a great relationship with Punch, and they were happy for us to put our ideas and requests forward, and together I think we came up with something true to the pub and the area we were looking to serve.
“We’ve had a few building issues since and our Area Manager has always been on hand to help to sort out them out quickly. Punch have been quick to act on the damp issues we discovered and to help with other essential building upkeep.”
Henry, you have a background in managed pubs, does that mean that your experience has prevented you from making any major mistakes?
“If only! My background has given me a disciplined approach to pubs and I would highly recommend to anyone new joining the industry to cut your teeth as a manager.
“That said, not that long ago, we managed to order 20 Kilos of frozen battered prawns when all we wanted was 1 kilo of fresh prawns. They arrived and I had to buy a spare fridge freezer to store them in, as all our food is made fresh. Guess what was on special for a few months? In fact, we still get people asking for them!”
What single thing would improve your life as a publican?
“Being able to afford to live outside the pub and have somewhere else to go to in the evenings; when you live above your pub, it’s impossible to switch off.”
The overall pub industry has changed dramatically in the last 10 years; what is your view on the current situation and where are we headed?
“I think the industry is still changing a lot, pubs are moving away from being a place to drink. Food is now so important as there are lower profit margins in beer.
“However, this means that new markets have opened up to offer different avenues to give publicans a way to make a living. Our competition is the supermarkets who offer cheap alcohol and great food deals; look at the M&S “meal for a tenner” deal, we have to do better and we have to give customers a reason to choose us over them.”