The Vic is back and boy is she beautiful….

Its been 3 years in the making, 15 months in the creating and 2 weeks since opening. Another Yummy one hits London town…..

The reviews are coming in thick & fast & appears everyone is LOVING our new little boozer.

“East London? Are you sure?” That was the first question.

“Have we got any money?” That was the second question.

“Sod it, we’ve only got everything to lose” was the answer,”Lets do it”.

Can the boys from the countryside do something with a boozer in the “East End Geezer?” Well it appears the answer is Yes! The East End has changed and so have the boys from the countryside. Time to give an old girl another lease of life.

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Surrounded by closed sites boasting Truman & Toby branding, beautiful pubs, pubs before I joined the industry, now pubs that are flats or boarded up dinosaurs waiting to become flats, not that they need to be, but money talks & in London, a pub, that is not a pub, is a cracking way to make some serious dosh, short term. However, long term, theres no future in it.

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Our lady has had a good dollop of slap, a hefty nose job, a nip & a tuck & she’s back on the circuit. To give Charles Wells all due credit, they’ve let us play with another of their beautiful pubs & together we’ve created another one of the future. This time we’ve done it together, without designers, but just us, well, in reality just Anthony, David, Anna & Malcolm in the main. My input “I want a stand alone coffee shop, not a two group in a pub, but a coffee shop, with fridges with lots of beers to take away”. I got 70% of what I requested, my beer concept will have to wait for the next one, or maybe the one after that, but it will happen.

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I’ve only been waiting for an open kitchen for 6 years, got one now…patience is a virtue as I keep telling young Finn on a daily basis as he bolts for the cookie tin first thing in the morning.

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Its also brilliant to see the passion Charles Wells have retained as a business in their people. I meet different people everyday who complain about being part of the ‘big organisation’ or ‘just a number’. I know the business is not huge, but its big enough. To have an entire property team, sales team, one of the fellas in change of it all, mucking in at the last minute to get everything looking ship shape as we opened the doors was not done because they were told too, it was done because they genuinely care.

We are still the ‘client’ on all the paperwork, but away from the contracts & the forms, people like David & Richard are the lifeblood of the company. The reason we ran on for over two weeks, wasn’t down to planning, or poor management of a project, it was simply down to people & we over looked it. Malcolm has a cracking team, some of the most talented craftsmen you could find, they’re not just chippies or painters, they’re true craftsmen (not lumbering great pillocks dressed in high vis vest found in the emergency kits of car boots).

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But take just two key people out of ‘the team’ & replace them with two contractors to cover holidays & the result, the two people can’t replace them, you actually need six. I love insight when its real, not the normal crap of 1000 people from 60 million said ‘this’, the insight I have taken from the development of The Vic – people make a company, the company doesn’t make the people. Sure you learn, you can develop in a different business, but unless you have the raw talent & a desire to drive yourself, no training or development can help you. In my view, passion, thats a quality I’ll employ everyday of the week. Malcolm thought he could ‘Alfie Moon’ his way out in week four of the build, somehow it always comes together, it always has before, but this time, it didn’t. The end result, exceptional, true craft, not the IKEA we are seeing spring up all over the shop lately.

Would I do it all again for what we have to play with today, absolutely.

So, little Yummy Pub Co. have arrived in the East End & its lovely to be there. Being driven by the shiny shoed & dashingly braced young Danny, we’re confident we’ve got another run away success on our hands. If the past two weeks are anything to go by, its going to be a fab community boozer in the normal Yummy way. Just this week we’ve had some amazing reviews come in, which are brilliant to see;

[ http://www.crummbs.co.uk ]

Crumbs front_http---crummbs.co.uk-the-victoria-mile-end-

[ http://www.justopenedlondon.com ]

Just Opened London_http---www.justopenedlondon.com-the-victoria-

[ http://www.themetropolist.com ]

The Metropolis

[ http://www.itsrudetostare.com ]

Its rude to stare

[ http://www.barchick.com ]

Bar chick

[ http://100cups.blogspot.co.uk ]

100 cups of coffee

[ http://www.gladieater.com ]

Gladieater_http---www.gladieater.com-#-tgb-

[ http://www.londontown.com ]

London Town

[ http://tikichris.com ]

Tikichris original screen shot

Danny is another super star in Yummy. I couldn’t have asked for more energy, passion, drive or effort from him, when we say someone is ‘Yummy’ in my company, after just a few short months I know we’re getting it right with our people. The girls like him, which means a lot. Currently I’m on the hunt for another one, Sarah is off to experience a little of what the South Pacific has to offer leaving a ruddy great hole in my team, she will be sorely missed, but I’m sure we’ll have plenty of updates on what she’s doing; having fun, creating mischief, causing a wake of broken hearts in her wake….

And we’ve still got plenty to do at The Vic, it wasn’t all plain sailing, she was / is built to last. The flat roof gardens are next, prep obviously, no point planting as we head into the middle of Autumn, but this time next year, the view from Google Earth (or maybe one of those little drone things) will be a green oasis of veggies, salads, chickens & flowers, I’ve got five flat roves to fill, its going to give a whole new meaning to the ‘kitchen garden’ but it will be locally sourced, thats for sure!

So, the GB’s next…the Yummy adventures continue….


So, had a call from the boss (Anthony)…

Just to clear something up, mainly for the people of Kent.

A. I didn’t tick the little box to say this blog came from ‘Tim’s random Goings-on’, so it appears as if ‘Jason’s Recipes & Kitchen Fun’ posted the blog. This is not true, Tim wrote it.

B. I am not, not going to open a GB’s in Kent because I don’t like people from Kent, or indeed people in Kent are not liked by Yummy. I’m not going to open a GB’s in Kent (yet) because the pub I own in Kent has flooded, nearly burnt to the ground & had somebody I trusted, steal thousands & thousands & thousands of pounds from me, nearly bankrupt my entire business & make me feel like crap. Its just a little something in the back of my head that says “really?”

C. Do I love my pub, which is in Kent?

D. Oh Yes

Just look at it!

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Does my little boy ask me every single night when I come home (from the Grove or not) “how are my chickens daddy? Is Pickle ok? Have the ducks laid any eggs yet? Are my chicks chickens yet?”

Simple answer, Yes. Long answer my conversation with a 4.5 year old with plenty of additional questions…..

Its a good welcome home.

Maybe its because my dad, despite all his faults gave me a dream childhood (mum included) I didn’t have to ask questions, I was involved; pigs, goats, dogs, tractors, sheep, cows, chickens, horses, geese, ducks, orchards, turkeys, veg, lambs, angoras (still goats, but posh ones). Doing my GCSE’s in a 4 birth caravan after loosing it all was not so great, but that’s rolling the dice, that’s what the GB’s are doing as of 5am tomorrow, that’s what Anthony, Jason & I have done for the past 7 years, 9-5, 10-4, whatever. Every new day is an adventure, a Yummy one. For me, my beautiful pub takes me back 20 years each week, I absolutely love what we have made the Grove int0, despite my landlords continuous negativity, for me, she’s beautiful, thats foresight, thats me, I’m also Head of Being Awesome so, stick a pipe in it.

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No more fires, theft, flooding, maybe the GB’s will ope in Kent, for now, they’ll just serve exceptional coffee at The Grove. Oh & an amazing team & fun, smiles, infectious characters & a very comfy sofa if you need to bed down for a night, it was comfy on Tuesday with a full hotel, it’ll be comfy on Wednesday next week. The day I don’t sleep on a sofa to a full house at The Grove is the day I give up being head of Being Awesome.

That day will never arrive.


Watch out London, the GB’s are coming…..

First question – What is a GB?

Well, that’s a great question & as with everything in Yummy, it will take a little explaining, but once you know, its like a eureka moment.

A GB is a new breed of barista, a passionate coffee lover, an artist, a magician, a loon. With a dash of Yummy, a shot of imagination & a flavour like no other the GB’s are being gathered, ready to delight, entertain & inspire a nation of coffee lovers. Put down that average latte & let me explain.

Currently we have two GB’s, by this time next year we’ll have an army. Let me introduce you to my two GB’s, the first, the founders, the magicians, friends of Yummy, an all round good egg (or two).

Mr Henry C.A.W. Ayres (on the left) & Mr Edward T.G.E. Parkes (on the right) – Directors of the Gentlemen Baristas

Boys billboard

We invest in people, we’ve written a lot about that & show it everyday in our business, but for the first time this week ((ever)), we’ve put our money where our mouth is & invested cold hard cash (well, we held onto it for a little bit for a cuddle to warm it up first, some of it had to be plastic, because we are skint but got a fantastic balance transfer rate…too good to be missed) into a new business, a business not run by us, but by Henry & Ed, It’s exciting stuff.

I wrote last week about just doing it, well the boys will, obviously with a lot of help from us, a sort of ‘leg up’ in business, after all, a chunk of it’s my cash, but it’s their lives they’re rolling the dice with, if it was that easy, everyone would do it. This week i have in mind environmental health officers who apparently work a 10am – 4pm ‘day’ & call it ‘office hours’ for gifting out their little 1-5 marks & contradicting themselves in every single council we trade in, maybe they need a guide book or something, because if I asked any of them to run the country, christ, we’d be in Italy or Greece, thank god they don’t.

Hey ho, a job is a job & a job is a jobs worth, is that right? No, I’m getting confused, a job is a job, that’s what she said, whilst shouting & pointing her finger in the face of one of the nicest people you will ever meet (( & as an FYI, on camera )) do I feel an official complaint is on the way? Damned right I do, but that’s for tomorrow, when I roll out of bed at 8.45am, switch off the bloody alarm clock & get out of my PJ’s with just enough time (( an hour & 15, to get to work )). Oh, & Lee // Ryan, you were totally crap at your jobs, that’s why you walked before you were sacked, keep blaming us, we’re cool with it. Bless.

Oh & if you want to keep on wasting hard working (( honest )) tax payers money & kind people who donate to charities time, fill your boots, R.S.P.C.A – done, EHO – done, #thatswhatyoucallyummy – see you over the fence in 20 years, looking forward to the image.

If the boys fail (( The GB’s )) we’ll be ok, out of pocket, but ok & I will hunt them down for the rest of their lives…..( please insert the work joke here if your are joking …… ) but there’s no point at looking at failure, they’re GB’s, what could go wrong? We’re not opening up in Kent, thats for sure! Not that I have anything against Kent, but that county has not been nice to Yummy, not nice at all. We’ve also introduced them into our wider family over the past few months, they are indeed Yummy, they are lego, they are total loons.

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Our first site is getting ship shape & ready & will trade in the fantastic Borough / London Bridge vicinity. We hope to be up & running in October, with a training school on the first floor to follow swiftly afterwards. The guys have also set up a wholesale arm to the business, Why? Because we absolutely hate what the big boys are doing. They are killing the very asset that made coffee great – artisan, people, fun. Coffee is not a commodity, it’s an art….Henry & Ed will show you that.

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So exciting times ahead, Yummy is going coffee in a big way. Watch this space, on demand grinders at the ready.

Henry also has the very canny habit of just turning up with veg. Last week he appeared at the Coffee House with 6 marrows just as Sarah was heading off on her break, impressed is not the word. The GB’s are coming, the GB’s are Yummy, the GB’s have a fantastic future ahead of them, they are dreamers, they are magicians.


Another year in Yummy. Its as simple as that.

So, we closed the books to our financial year on Sunday & in reflection, what a year!

WHAT A YEAR!

If anyone, anyone, tells you to start your own business…. DO IT & say f*@k it, I can always brush myself off if it fails & go get a ‘Real Job’ – HOWEVER: Please note: with the Yummy caveat (lawyer term) that says – be prepared to turn your life upside down, allow it to f*@k you side ways & some. The swearing type expletives are required, you want to go it alone, or with friends, for a ‘no boss’ lifestyle, there is two sides to every story, I wish you the best of luck if you say f*@k it….

For me;

I bought five new pigs. Cute one’s. After a bit of feeding, less so cute, but the ginger one will always be my favourite.

I kicked three doors in & shouted at people. Two of which (people, not doors) I threw out of pubs within an hour.

Suzy, a chicken (Bantum) I disturbed from the nest some 5 months ago, has had a stunning recovery with nine beautiful chicks (which, for a Bantam, as my mum would tell you ((told me today)) is quite some feat, this late on in the year – always a farmers boy me….) soon to be residents of the Vic flat top roof (girls only) is really what Yummy is all about.

But.

One pub almost burnt to the ground.

One pub almost flooded away, well two actually, but one really, really, (nearly) went underwater for a period of 12 torturous weeks.

One pub ran out of cookies.

One pub. Well, enough said. That pub knows who they are.

But, 36.6% (Anthony’s numbers, I trust him implicitly) UP, yes UP on like for like sales in 2013/14 V’s 2012/13 says we might, just might be doing something right?

In short, its been a phenomenal year in Yummy.

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I read & digest every review on Trip Advisor & actually every online forum, we’re devils (Anthony less so) Jason & I for surfin’ late at night. Despite taking a ‘whatever’ approach to the reviews, which everyone that writes a cr@p review says we do, we don’t. We investigate, we ask questions, we look at the offer & if needed, we change. But do we respond? The simple answer is, No. We found that when we responded (2012/13) we opened up a forum, so we talk to customers that come to us, directly.

We personally deal with every single complaint that comes into Yummy. The three of us.

Can we keep doing it as we grow? Of course we can, there are 18 hours in everyday & if we split those between the three of us, we’ve got every week of every year covered, no matter how many pubs we own.

“TripAdvisor is a travel website providing directory information and reviews of travel-related content. It also includes interactive travel forums. TripAdvisor was an early adopter of user-generated content”

I call it Marmite.

You either Love it, or you Hate it. I also call Yummy Marmite. You either Love us or you Hate us, there is no middle ground. I’m the reason for that. Today I’ve designed a new A Board for the front of the Somerstown, it opens with the question -

Open For Breakfast?

Do Pigs like cheese?

Oh Yes…

I can just see it now – one person walking along at 7.30am, bored, listening to music on their iPhone, they wanted to change a week ago, but haven’t had time too, suddenly breaking into a smile as they pass the A board. Then, one person walking along at 7.31am, bored, listening to music on their iPhone, they wanted to change a week ago, but haven’t had time too, frown & shake their head as they pass the A board.

Love marketing strategy me (what normal people, outside of the marketing & PR ‘circle’ call bollocks) I call ‘fun’.

But, it’s true & it’s called human nature.

I read a review today, posted after 6 x 5* reviews of one of my pubs (I had to ask TA to move a number of them across different content related platforms as they were posted under the wrong ‘category’ of the pub, annoyingly). This particular ‘Traveller’ gave it 1* – It was horrific. They had been a ‘traveller’ since 2012, yet my pub was the first review, which gave them a ‘senior reviewer’ title. A pinch of salt in the owners deep cut wound, a visit (by me the following day, 36 hours journey), a directors audit & we decided, maybe, just maybe that ‘traveller’ didn’t appreciate what we were doing.

Maybe we are wrong? Time will tell. But, apparently it’s ‘under new ownership’ – I’ve only owned it for 6 years, maybe somebody has sneakily bought it from under me? Hope so, I’ve got a gas bill to pay….

But, have I lost business? Absolutely.

When is it that I don’t loose business? I would suggest every hour of everyday single day. It’s terrifying, but its completely true. So, it’s in my people that I trust my entire business to? Absolutely.

And what amazing people I have…..

Most companies rate their HR business performance on the ‘turnover of staff’ or ‘staff turnover’ – the number of people that leave them & have to be ‘replaced’ by others. This is our industry standard. As most things Yummy, we’ve decided that’s a crock of….so…we’ve rated ourselves on the ‘return of our team’ as a percentage….. that interestingly currently stands at 19.8% (through the difficulties of health & hygiene we have had some individuals loose vital body parts to make up the .0.8% ((or)) in reality its just math) so returning to Yummy have been & are….Toby, Jess, Jess, (there are two of them) Stu, Matt, Anouska (probably spelt wrong, but its late & she’ll forgive me), Zoe, James, Matt, Stephan, Stace, to name but a few. We are immensely proud of our people, we love the fact we have let our guys & gals live their dreams & slowly they return to the nest, for new adventures & life building dreams. We are also immensely proud of the new people we have found in the ether (tinternet for the less advanced) – Simmo, is a complete star, a COMPLETE star (slight cheat as Katie recommended him, but he still applied online). Danny, is just delivering on every level. We LOVE (big hugs & kisses) Steve, Freya & Josh, Oh, My, Lord….the Ozzies have found home, if only for a visa or two…Steve, he’s no Ozzy, but the boy can wear shorts & some…

So what beckons for 2014/15 in Yummy?

Well, Christmas, that comes first….or maybe its taking some more kids into Yummy before the winter arrives, more kids from the New Horizons Youth Centre next door (to Somerstown) who strive every single day to get kids to realise, life ain’t so bad, it might be crap right now, but look forward, there’s hope. If I could, I’d walk next door 9.30am, pick every single one of them up, give them a cuddle & say “come to Yummy” but I can’t, I’ve got 109 guys & gals working for me (terrifyingly), I’m a business, but guess what, if everyone running the big boys game came here, they could. There’s only 3000 of them. They come here, (Somerstown) day in, day out to steal (sorry, borrow) our ideas, so how about taking some of the kids? I’m bored of the politics, its taking up a lot of our tine. I’m bored of the ‘who’s going to get what payout from the government in what grant crap’. Get out of your desk, put down your latte & come to The Somerstown Coffee House, NW1 1HS. We have kids, great kids that can do great things in your business. Yes, they will take some work. Yes, they will take some management. Some of them won’t work out, because they are too damaged, but get off your arses & come down here, tell you what, just send your HR managers, we’ll do the rest, I’m bored of the politics, I’m bored of the slow game, you want kids that NEED to know what work is? Hospitality is the perfect induction. (Anthony will kill me).

Next door, they have them.

As for me, pictures tell a thousand words…..

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The new Yummy ‘Hipsters’ group appearing on X Factor 2015) from right to left -

Danny – My new GM of the Vic, God help me. Billy – he’s beautiful, but infectious, a cure will arrive soon, an ointment, maybe a rub? (he’s from New Horizons!). Sarah, aka £Y€$, enough said, simply dangerous. Ellie, A future super star, but a crazy. Simply. NUTZ. Nice PJ’s though.

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Suzy the chicken (Bantam) & nine chicks (most hidden). 5 x black, 4 x yellow.

The GB’s – that adventure is simply going to be amazon’ – I. Can. Not. Wait….

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…& it would appear that a number of other smaller boutique pub co’s are trying to maybe imitate our style…so, just putting it out there, Yummy Pub Co are going Lego (Trade marks & all the rest understood vultures of the corporate World) in our approach to our image & our people….everyone in Yummy is now a ‘unique’ piece, not just a number (or reference number)…we’re going Lego baby….

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…Can you tell who does the design yet?  I especially liked the medal…


I’d do anything for my boys……

You don’t believe it when ‘dads’ talk to you about their kids when you don’t have any…..

The ‘change’ that happens over night, used to be a ‘whatever’ t0 me……

But,

when they say it’s life changing, they ain’t kidding. For me, I have two sets of ‘boys’. Finn & Theo, my two gorgeous fellas, yet to break the ages of 5 & 17 weeks & two ruggedly handsome fella’s whom I decided some years ago buying a pub together was a really, really good idea. They are somewhat older. The elder of the two ‘older fellas’ has just become a daddy, to a very handsome young Mr Fletcher Rowlands, he’s going to be an amazing daddy, the senior Mr Rowlands, who is also the backbone of my company (but we never tell him that). The younger of the two ‘elders’  has just disappeared on a stag ‘weekend’ that will last a mere 6 days starting a Tuesday afternoon….. still ‘living the dream’ & keeping the two of us older one’s ‘young’ apparently….

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But my family goes much beyond the beautiful woman I fell in love with the minute I saw her & my beautiful boys, it now amounts to a staggering 109 people, soon to be plenty more as we strive to return the bold (slightly ugly at first sight) Victoria to her former glory.

My family is my business & the people that make Yummy, are what make Yummy.

At this point the title of my blog must change to boys……… ‘& girls’ as for its the girls, or ‘ladies’ that run the majority of my businesses, that make my business tick, as if I needed to be told that!

So what are the ‘ladies’ doing? Well they’re doing pretty well. In May we posted a +22% life for like sale growth which included a fire to take out the Grove for an entire bank holiday weekend & in June, we smashed that to deliver 31% like for like sales growth in Yummy. The girls have done gooooooooooood.

Theo is, somewhat impressed…

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It’s genuinely exciting to see my company grow like this, but i’ve never been one for numbers, you can ask all of my bosses that (& Anthony). Numbers don’t really excite me, I always hit them or over deliver them (normally by luck or by fortune), but what makes me tick is people. I Love seeing the development of my team, now truly ‘My People’. Ellie is literally smashing it. She’s over delivering in every sense, she ‘ain’t ‘no number’, which is the common thread in the 100+ CV’s I’ve read this week…. I don’t want to just be a number in a big pub co, I want to be part of something….

Anand is on fire, Cosy is in safe hands…

Lucy C, she needs no introduction, the Grove has never been in safer hands…

..the other two are on holiday & restatement to their quality, their teams are acting as if they have never left….

Toby is back with a coffee snobbery I love. Stu is back, unexpected & simply amazing. Matt is back (in a bit) with fire in his belly. Jess is back (in a bit) with a stunning golden tan. My kitchen team at the mill is the same team we had in 2009 + plus one, which is simply staggering. Jen is back. Anoushka has been back a while, but we’ve really not spoken about it since she showed up at work one day dressed like this….it was ‘awkward’

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The sad news is that Ally is going. This Sunday will be it, no doubt he will have an amazing 12 months abroad, then be’ll back again, more rounded, experienced, ready for a new challenge., but there is no real reason to go, Canada is cold, white, boring, he might as well stay & look at a white board for 3 hours a day, but there’s no telling him! I can’t thank him enough for his return stints, I love him to pieces, always will. He has made me so proud of what Yummy can do when an individual is determined to meet us half way, the boy done good. Still ginger, but he was born that way, ginger is good.

Jeff is off. He’s a talent, one of which I can’t keep right now, but I hope he’ll come back, one day. He needs to experience a different business right now, & I’ll fix that, rest assured.

So my people. I’ve got a few new faces joining Yummy – Danny is going to drive the Vic for me, with the able hands of Laurence. Steve is going to show age means nothing for dreamers & Roxy, well Roxy is going to show everyone, anything is possible. She’s not new, but she’s going to prove if you’re passionate about something, anything is possible.

As for me?

I’ve stayed up too late again. Theo will not be happy as I fall asleep for the night feed, but am I happy? Have I made the right choice in risking everything, a punt, a belief in myself we can create a business to be proud of, shortchanging my family right now for the opportunities of the future?

Absolutely.

Yummy is getting stronger, we are making waves. We, the three old gits are empowering our people to make a difference, excel & prove – pub business is good business.

I bloody love it.


A new Yummy adventure

I honestly don’t know what I’m more excited about, the fact we have a fantastic new pub coming into Yummy or the fact that Toby is back.

It’s an honest assessment of where I’m at. Not many Australians come to the UK & Europe to see a bit of the World, end up working in a crazy little place called The Somerstown Coffee House, have to head home & then come back some 5 months later. Our Toby has returned & boy is that guy looking good!

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On the other hand, my company is having another little growth spurt. It doesn’t seam 10 minutes since we were planning the Gorringe, mucking around taking photographs, dressing up, watching a tired old building come back to life, but it was over 2 years ago when that all started! Now we have the Vic, The Victoria as she likes to be known & once again, we’re going to show everyone how the pub evolves, evolves into a Yummy one.

So, whats the plan? Well, we’ve got most of the team sorted, they’re already in Yummy for the most part, hiding amongst the fantastic teams we have in the pubs, getting ready to take all of the fun & cariama to the Vic. We’re going to take all of the good bits from every single one of our pubs & put it all together with a couple of added splashes of colour & new ideas for the old girl.

My fantastic sales & marketing team are going to have an actual office as opposed to the broom cupboard. Ellie will be running the show in there for me, driving the endless creative opportunities for Yummy forwards, its brilliant to see how quickly developed, the absurd dedication she has to her new found family & I stoked she’s found a home in Yummy. The old brick building will be getting some much needed TLC, a makeover for the garden, a new speakeasy in the cellar, a total makeover of the first floor to our Ssshh rooms & plenty more. Light, colour, fun. That’s the interior designers brief, luckily for us it Anthony, jazz hands at the ready.

It’s also really interesting watching & being part of change. We’re making quite a few in the business on a daily basis & it still intrigues me when people blame other people for their failings. Would we have ever been given the opportunity to build a pub company if others had not failed. The answer is no. In that respect we actually need people to be narrow minded, short sighted & just never allow ourselves to get into the same situation. With the people that surround us, I don’t think we will.

www.yummypubco.com_winetraining

With the support of Charles Wells as a partner, not a landlord I can see nothing but opportunities & growth for Yummy. We’ve both worked incredibly hard at the relationship, it’s not all a bed of roses, it’s professional, honest & business. Our word is our bond, that’s how we’ve been since day one & I don’t intend to let anybody down. They’re also in my opinion the most progressive family brewer in the market. We’ve looked at lots of partners, had many, many conversations, looked at hundreds of pubs, price lists, product lists, support packages & I can’t find better. Miles is doing an exceptional job with the product reviews & purchases, in order to evolve you have to be ahead or at least on trend, he’s most certainly there & the more diversity & differentiation he can give us the better. I think if he keeps the pace of change we could be more diverse than any freehouse in the market place, that’s a big deal for somebody who is tied to say, it’s not hollow words, it’s becoming reality. Tie my hands behind my back & tell me to make a business successful, guess what, I can’t do it. Give me the support & freedom to shape a business, I sold 289 cookies in 4 pubs in one week, coffee is dead to me know, its just an SKU, there are far more exciting things to talk about.

When people leave Yummy, it always seams to be our fault, for the one’s who were never really Yummy in the first place, probably our fault for giving them the opportunity. It’s only the guys & girls that leave on good terms, normally for a reason totally unrelated to work, who come back & are welcomed in with open arms. I couldn’t have asked more of Toby on his first stint in Yummy, he went above & beyond on a daily basis for us, had the wrong end of one of my rants more than once, but bounced & bounced stronger. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he bring this time round, whatever it is, it will be entertaining. He comes back at one of the most exciting times in Yummy, my GM’s are getting stronger, my teams are so much fun to be around (I’ll be missing girls night in next week) & I’m empowering everyone to make Yummy better – I want us to be the best, no excuses.

So Yummy is getting stronger & bigger. I was asked by a dashingly handsome (almost enough to turn one who is straight into one who is not so straight) & very intelligent journalist yesterday…”So Tim, when will Yummy be too big to fit into your pocket?” my answer, “We are going to have pretty deep pockets”.


What do you do when your pub burns down to the ground?

Fortunately, I don’t know what that feels like, but it could have been & those few hours were sole destroying.
I love picking up calls from Lucy on a Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Friday (She normally takes Wednesday & Thursday off!) but at 8.45am on a Bank Holiday Sunday, really?
L – “The Pubs on fire”
Me – “What do you mean ‘on fire’? Having an amazing breakfast?”
L – “No, the pubs on fire”
Me – “S*!@, everyone out? Safe? Elaborate….”
…& that’s how it happened. The Grove Pantry ((bloody)) Pub & ((chuffing)) Inn was on fire, literally on fire. It’s just another thing thrown at us from a great height, just as we’re recovering from the worst flooding in its history, a business destroying theft…..really?
Devastating doesn’t come close. Head in hands, nearly throwing up does.
What can halt a 44% like for like sales growth? A fire, that would do it! Bloody brilliant!
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My picnic with mummy & the boys went out of the window. Instead, bag packed, in car, on route. That’s what happens when it’s yours, Operation Yummy was in play.
I can’t thank Lucy & her team enough for saving the site, they really did. The fire brigade can never get to us at speed, we are in the middle of blooming nowhere, without the fast thinking & training of my team, I’m convinced I would have arrived at a site levelled to the ground, 1847 to 2014, 137 years of history up in smoke. Not to take it away from the chaps in tan / florescent / yellow , they were super fast, moved furniture so it wasn’t damaged, genuinely did everything they could to tackle the fire without adding further destruction to the building (apart from a few doors kicked in & a very, very soggy popcorn display later….) & of course, actually putting the fire to rest as it was still blazing when they arrived.
Yummy. That’s the perfect word to describe my guys & gals, that’s why I named my company in the spirit of my people, they shape it, they create it & in this instance, they saved it. Wet tea towels on faces & all…..
But how do you deal with the fall out?
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Well, you (we) have Bank Holiday weekend, fully booked. Systems, planning, procedures, that’s how. It’s a ball ache. I hate ticking boxes (would you believe), but boxes must be ticked, systems must be in place & your team must be ready. We were. Now, on a train home (late again) to see my two sleeping boys, my pub is open, my hotel rooms will be open next Thursday, because it’s not what happens when things are going right, but when things go wrong that you plan for, or react at pace.
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It also sums up the debate between going it alone or in partnership for me. We’re a tight unit the three of us, there’s not much we won’t say to each other or raise face to face. Anthony’s cardigan wearing is beginning to become a thorny issue, but we know the future Mrs Pender bought that, so we leave it alone, but outside of our fun, our relationship with our landlords has transformed in the past 12 months.
Those that bitch should have read the detail better, in all honesty, we should have. But if you demonstrate that all you want is success, I’m convinced there is middle ground. That’s where we are with Shep’s. There’s no question Andy has had an enormous impact on our relationship, in reality, he’s saved it. But now, the more of the guys we work with, the more I see a desire to just get on with it, have great pubs to be proud of. Product range is still crap, I could deliver huge margins with a week in their purchasing team, but changes in Britain’s Oldest brewer are coming through, the big cogs are turning.
If I owned the freehold of the Grove would I have had to make 10 bacon sardines (well, Lee did in reality, I just delivered a few) for an army of contractors today? No, would be the honest answer. Would I be opening 6 hotel rooms within 10 days of a major fire going into peak season? Nope. Would I be writing a blog whilst a young (ruggedly handsome chap) called Mr Ben White thrashes out the costs, timescales, project management with skills & knowledge we just play at from time to time? Nope.
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It’s not how good your relationship is when it’s all good, it’s how good it is when it’s all going South, its taken us a number of years to learn that.
Is this now the three bad things? Does the site with SO much potential now deliver?
God I hope so.
If not, we’ll get up & brush ourselves down, again & again & again & again.

The garden is beginning to look less like a lake, more like a garden….

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I bloody love my pub.


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