Thursday, 29 January 2009

A long road

We're just about to open up after two months of no customers. It's scary. What will the year hold for us? We've put so much into this project, we've ploughed any profit, what there is, and all our reserves into The Inn. We really need to make money this year. But the credit crunch, how do we deal with that?

It's obvious that some places are cutting prices and so must, by reason, be cutting costs. The quality is going to drop. A few less cleaning hours here, perhaps a narrow selection of beers so that deals can be done on quantity with fewer suppliers. Perhaps consider that large catering block of processed cheese rather than the local supplied one that is better.

We don't know if we're doing the right thing, but we believe we need to maintain quality. We'll not be doing any cheap deals just to get bums on seats. Of course, this might mean all our customers go somewhere else. So, it's scary hanging on to one's beliefs. But if we compromise we might disappoint the customer base we have now and then they won't be there when things get better.

I've been in the kitchen most of the day preparing food for opening. In some ways it's nice, but in others it's difficult. How much do I prepare? If I over do it I've wasted effort and spent money on ingredients only for them to go in the bin. If I under prepare then I might miss a sale if we run out. Tapping and venting casks has similar problems.

Five years ago we were just about to move in here. Wide eyed and bushy tailed we believed that all that any failing pub needed was a good management team. We knew we could do it, all it needed was hard work and determination. Think of the profit, with the markup on product it can't fail. Get a manager in and we'll be on holiday half the year.

Five years on and boy did we underestimate the amount of hard work and determination. The eating of the margins by overheads and essential repairs leaving improvements to be taken from reserves. Now we have a recession, yippee.

But we're still here and hopefully will be for another 12 months at least. We've well and truly made our stamp on the place and it would be difficult to go back. We've installed a brewery, and the beer is nice, even if I say so myself. We've replaced some of the roof last year, eventually. The surveyor said when we bought that it needed replacing immediately. Well 5 years is immediate in a property that has nearly 500 years of history. We've put 3 more rooms en suite, rebuilt a bar, completely refurbished the kitchen, including a complete new concrete floor, that's a story in itself.

If we go bust due to some sort of recession, then at least we tried. Hopefully we won't. The economy might have shrunk by 3% or whatever, but 3% less turnover for us won't kill us and anyway, lets hope everybody holidays in the UK this summer. That should help pubs and the wider economy, so here's hoping.

Tonight I've put on two cask beers ready for tomorrow. My own Saazy's Wiesse at 4.3%, it's a wheat beer and Hesket Newmarket's Skidaw Special Bitter also at 4.3%. Oh bugger, that makes me realise that yet again, no session ale. There's more beer tapped, I'll check in the morning.

So, if this blog gets a bit erratic later in the year, be pleased for me, I've got customers. Tomorrow night I've definitely got at least two, staying as residents. But I've already got tomorrows post worked out. Sparklers, head retention and full pints. The beer is on the bar with a collapsing head waiting for the second photograph.


Alistair Reece said...

Hope everything goes well for you!

Stick to your principles about quality, generally a recession means not that people don't spend money, but they want better than average for it.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, it sounds like a fantastic place. I very rarely get over that way but I'll try and make a point to.

Tyson said...

I think you are correct to stick to quality and avoid the temptation to cut corners. After all, it's not the Yates wine lodge crowd you're aiming for anyway.

Hopefully, you'll reap a just reward for your efforts.

Unknown said...

Well, a good weekend, if a little quiet. But it's January, and I wasn't sure if it was worth opening at all. It was, even if just to make a few people happy.