When I retire I’ll buy a pub…

This is a short piece I wrote for the trade publication ‘The Publican’s Morning Advertiser‘.  The target audience isn’t just publicans so I’m sharing it here as well.  The day after it was published I received an email from the Landlord of the Ship Inn, Dorset, which tickled me so I’ve included that too! My original article follows:

‘When I retire I’ll buy a pub…’

It’s the phrase that Publicans despise. The insinuation that running a pub is an easy job, that it just entails sitting at the end of the bar with a G & T playing ‘mine host’. I do have sympathy for people coming into this industry under these false pretenses but I hope they take heed of my first warning. Being a good publican isn’t a lifestyle, it is your life.

Running a pub is the most versatile job I can imagine, from barman to bookkeeper, chef to cleaner, potman to plumber, plus everything in between, and I love it! It isn’t an easy career path to take if you don’t. A disheartened publican shows, from the quality of the beer, the cleanliness of the pub and the demeanor of the rest of the staff. Attitudes are changed from the top, an enthusiastic publican breeds great staff which in turn attracts great customers. Being a publican can also be the most rewarding job, if you’re good at your job you’ll know this. You’ll be flattered when your staff start mimicking your sales patter, or when customers start echoing your recommendations to their friends. You’ll smile when your staff welcome your regulars by pouring their drink before they even get to the bar. You can become an integral part of the community, raising money for local charities, watching your locals relationships develop, their families grow, celebrating good news with them and being there for them on darker days..

So my second warning goes to existing hard working enthusiastic publicans. It’s a lesson I am trying to teach myself. ‘When I retire…’ is a long way off and it’s important to remember whose life it is! Your customers don’t ‘own’ you, and your pub won’t fall apart without you. If you run a great pub you’ll have great staff who also become part of the community who the customers are just as happy to share their trials and triumphs with. It’s impossible to stay productive and keep a smile on your face for over 70 hours a week, so cut down your hours, you’ll get more done and you’ll be happier too.

Make time for your life, your loved ones, your friends and your interests, after all, this is a tough job, you might not be up to much when you retire!

Shortly after the publication landing on my doorstep I received an email from Gavin Griggs, Landlord of the Ship Inn, Dorset. I was pleased to see that somebody at least found my advice helpful, while I still struggle to get to grips with the concept! I did manage a few days away last week and I even kept the phone on silent, this week however, I’m back to a seven day working week (mainly in the kitchen while we eagerly await the arrival of our new head chef on the 12th July!). If I am lucky enough to grab another few days away I might try and get to the Ship, it looks fantastic!

From: Gavin Griggs
To: The Thatchers Arms
Subject: When I retire I’m going to buy a pub…
Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2011

Yesterday my wife puts this week’s Morning Advertiser in front of me with a wry grin & says read that article “When I retire I’m going to buy a pub.” Naturally I do as I am told …

Once I have finished it I look at her & she says “your customers don’t own you and your pub won’t fall apart without you…. It’s impossible to stay productive & keep a smile on your face for more than 70 hours a week – so cut down your hours… Make time for your life, your loved ones, your friends & your interests..” Then she says “How many times have told you these very things? Perhaps now you have seen it in print from another landlord who has actually seen the light, after six years here can we now go on holiday for more than three days…?” I laugh & say “of course we can.”

This morning whilst I’m cooking breakfast for our residents, my wife comes in and says “right I been on the internet & have booked us a holiday for two weeks to Tuscany going late September after the summer peak dies down…”

I just wanted to say thanks for “helping me see the light!”

All the best
Gavin Griggs

P.S My wife didn’t help you write the piece did she…?

Thankfully his correspondence was fairly tongue in cheek and hopefully he’ll enjoy the holiday my piece inspired…


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