Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Holiday? Don't bank on it.

Well the best, or is it worst? is over. That was the longest and possibly busiest weekend of the year for us. News reports are indicating up to a 45% increase on visitor numbers over last year to some places in the Lake District. From what we saw we can well believe it. The combination of good weather and a very late Easter have brought people out in droves. A very good, but trying weekend for us.

Oh, and for a change, the weather was not so good in the south. No, I'm not finding that funny, very much.

We're tired with a capital "F". The staff are down to one day off a week. Luxury, we're having cheese, crackers, olives and beer for breakfast (or is it supper?) at 1am after the bar is closed only to be getting up at 6.45am to set up for customers breakfast. Defeacation may have to wait a while. A day off for us? Well we can dream.

It makes me think though; Due to our location we find we have around 50% of our operational days where we actually have difficulty covering our overheads. A reasonable proportion of our trading makes just about enough to break even. The bank holidays make up for the poor trading times. I've said before; if we get a good summer, all will be good. If it rains like it did the last two years we're well and truly stuffed. And God alone help us if we ever get foot and mouth again.

Am I complaining? Well, not really. I think it's been our busiest bank holiday ever. I also think we handled it the best we've ever done. I'm really quite proud of all of the team. But what perhaps bothers me is that before I came into the trade I used to be one of those people who complained about tourist locations screwing the punters. Really, this is not the case. Do you want to enjoy a pint in a remote location amongst beautiful scenery? It might be worth considering what it takes to deliver that pint in such a location.

21 comments:

Artist formerly known as Wurst, CEO APRK said...

What's your tap water like up there? Hard, soft, in between? I'm just curious if you play with mash pH at all.

Anonymous said...

By that last line do you mean £3+/pint? If so I wouldn't pay it.

Velky Al said...

Anonymous, I doubt then you are the target customer for an outfit like Dave's.

Tandleman said...

I think this clearly vindicates my "never run a pub" stance. Hats off to you Dave. Only a few months to go for a relaxing bit of quantitative easing in your chosen loo.

Tyson said...

Anon

£3 a pint? There are plenty of places in Manchester that charge that and they're not remotely what could be described as "scenic." I think people have to be realistic about these things.

Woolpack Dave said...

Velky Al, Tandleman and Tyson, thanks, saves me commenting further really......

....but I can't help myself. I do have beer at less than £3 per pint and I also have some at more. Westmalle Dubbel is on draft and is quite a bit more, but then it's 7% and drinking that in pints is just not getting it.

Anon. commenters would be best advised that I may have to take Tandleman's stance and employ ridicule.

Artistic Sausage, our water comes direct off the fellside. It is very soft but quite acidic. We add some salts but no requirement to alter the PH. See here.

Anonymous said...

I have no problems with paying £3+ in the UK for a pint for something specialised or strong. In fact I will pay far more than £3 for those kinds of beers (I will pay £7.50/pint in Copenhagen this weekend!). But paying more than £3 for your an average pint of bitter is crazy.

If you want your pub to become a middle-class hinterland instead of a place where people will actually drink you need to think again.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - badly worded!

I have no problems with paying £3+ in the UK for a pint of something specialised or strong. I will pay far more than £3 for specialist beers (I'm off to Copenhagen where it's easy £7.50/pint this weekend!). But paying more than £3 for an average pint of bitter is crazy.

If you want your pub to become a snobbish middle-class hinterland instead of a place where people will actually drink your beer then you need to think again.

Velky Al said...

Anonymous, get a name.

Artist formerly known as Wurst, CEO APRK said...

Dave, what do you actually mean by acidic? Is the pH of your water out of the tap below 7? Do you add calcium bicarbonate to raise the pH? If you have a water report, post it. I'm curious what you have as far as calcium, magnesium, sulfates, and most importantly, your carbonates.

Paul said...

Didn't see the 'anonymous name' facility first time round. I'll be sure to use it in future - it's less a pain in the backside than having to log in.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

"7% and drinking that in pints is just not getting it"

Remember some of those pints you had in Portland?

And I'd love to spend a bit of time someday back in your snobbish middle-class hinterland, but people keep drinking my beer and I'm chained to the mash tun.

Barm said...

If the beer is good, as I expect Dave's is, £3 is more than fair these days for a pint in a beautiful pub in a great location.

It's the pubs with sticky carpets, who want £3 for a tedious pint of past-their-best Directors or Abbot, that are the ones that I steer clear of.

Woolpack Dave said...

BUL180,

Now then Ted. I do indeed remember much enjoyment of these interesting beers that occur on the Pacific coast of the USA. Some seemed to etch a reminder into the stomach lining of this feeble Brit. But still more etched a longer lasting memory into the cortex, perhaps slowly decaying, of this increasingly aware beer nerd. West Coast IPA is indeed a worthy pint type ale, all be it in the 16oz version.

Westmalle Dubble is more than just a 7% ale. It is a complex barley wine type drink to be savoured and enjoyed and works much better in a goblet to allow the chocolate and raisin intricacies to embellish.

Ha, so there.

I've just ordered some Centennial hops so I can create a Zippy thing soon, just for your information.

Sausage, I'll post soon.....

Paul and A Mouse, if you are different,

My pub probably is snobby and middle class. But it is always nice to know the name of the person you are argu, I mean, discussing things with.

Either way, I just love comments on my blog, especially if I disagree with them.

Oh, and finally Tandleman, I've just counted 16 WC pans in the place. Gee, do I have a choice when I finally get time.

Jeffrey said...

£3 is too cheap. Put the price up! A middle-class pub sounds just lovely. We're all middle class now, anyway, surely?

I had bank holiday weekend off - the joys of running a pub in EC1!

Paul said...

You can charge what you like for your beer but don't be surprised or offended if you get the odd person walking. If you just want people to come in and have the odd beer and then drive away then fair enough (more like a cafĂ© bar setup than a pub) but I wouldn't stay for a whole evening. At a time when the price differentials are biting for many people then that's understandable. Lots of people can't afford the £3.10/pint for an average bitter that some places charge.

One thing I would say that is positive about your experience is that you do promote tasters. Many pubs do not openly advertise the fact and some get grumpy when you ask to try, say, something out of the ordinary. How on Earth are you going to know if you'll like an aniseed porter if you haven't tried it? (I made that mistake once. Bloody aniseed.)

The plus point in the £3+ is important - as I have said, if it's something special or rare I don't mind paying more. £3.10, say, for a pint of something like a strong, locally-brewed (6%+) porter or stout or rare beer in winter sounds OK by me as you would only have one.

Oh, and anyone that hires those horrible American limousine thing, even for a joke, is an utter pleb and embarrasses themselves.

With the way you have attacked my comments in your above post I can quite understand the several negative reviews circulating on the Internet about the extremely rude way you deal with customers. It gave me pause for thought before visiting your pub. I won't bother now. Your respect for proper real ale is admirable but your aggressive manner is not.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Meany.

Velky Al said...

Paul,

Just on your point about customer service, and I say this having never been to Dave's pub - long way to go for a pint when you live in Prague.

I think that a lot of people are over sensitive on the issue of customer service these days and look for a reason to complain, and if they can stroke their fragile egos by doing so online then they will - these being the very same mold of soul that would dash off a letter to the editor at the drop of a hat. Margot from The Good Life springs to mind.

What customer service should a pub provide? A decent pint, properly cellared, served with or without a sprinkler as requested and with or without a head as requested (personally I think the default should be with). When I go into the pub for a pint I don't expect an Basil Fawltyesque obsequiousness which seems to be the standard expectation these days.

Good customer service also means telling patrons who are being annoying to shut up and remember that a public house is for all and not just for their tiny trainee terrorists to run around screaming in.

Woolpack Dave said...

Paul,

Thanks for you comments. It's difficult to add much more than Velky Al has said.

We seem to please the people we want to please. The ones we know we aren't going to please we still try to be nice to. Sometimes, especially during busy school holidays, it goes wrong.

We don't do ordinary bitter, at any price. My local regular beer is Woolpacker, brewed here with expensive Willamette hops, is 3.6% and sells for £2.60.

Is that good value? I think so.

Woolpack Dave said...

I should say, I am not against "trainee tourists", many are lovely. A very small number are not.

ChrisM said...

We don't do ordinary bitter, at any price. My local regular beer is Woolpacker, brewed here with expensive Willamette hops, is 3.6% and sells for £2.60.<<

Bargain! I'd rather pay that for an interesting beer than £2.30 for a pint of luke warm Directors et al...