Proud as punch

We closed all of the pubs on Monday night, a first for us, we’ve never actually had a pub closed before because we said so, not flooded, fallen trees, gas leak, on fire, it was a strange felling, but it was for a very special reason, The Yummy Bash 2014 aka The Yummy Conference aka Celebrating Success.

In 2014 we literally doubled in size from a bank mangers perspective, our turn over doubled, our like for like sales have ended the year far and above industry leading & all because of one common theme – people.

 More lovely customers came to visit us than ever before, more spent their hard earned cash, supported in this process by our people, us & some amazing experiences. Its been a year of highs & phenomenal lows, but we’ve stuck to the vision; “For every one thing that happens which is crap, we will do two things which are just plain fun”. For 2014 it seams to have worked.

I don’t think I was really prepared for the experience of the night though.

It’s one thing seeing a entire list of names on a monthly print out to approve a pay run, its quite another to see pretty much every single one of them in one cocktail club basement, together. It’s terrifying that we have 100+ kids relying on us for their futures, whether thats a short term fix, or a long term goal, greatly satisfying, but terrifying, from 3 loons in 7 years to a little army of nutters, love it.

Awards presentation, Yummy style

Awards presentation, Yummy style

 When we started this crazy journey we had a number of dreams, some visions & a desire to create something unique & special in our industry. Looking back at 2014 I think we’ve upheld some of those goals & looking forwards I can see a whole lot more becoming reality. The most satisfying thing for me is that even though there are so many of us, I know something about all of my people. Might just be a nugget, but its enough to generate a smile, maybe thats why I’m Head of Being Awesome? New people that join us take sometime to see that is a reality, not lip service, & Monday night was the nicest thing for new & old to mix, so many faces coming back into my business, so much talent in one room.

Chris, my new head chef at The Somerstown probably made the night for me. He’s new in, some great ideas, a fab temperament & in just a few short weeks over a crazy period in the coffee house, he turned to me & said “I don’t know how you guys do it, you actually know everyone thats works for you, not just the names, but you know them, you actually know them, not just you, but all three of you?”

I generally believe we can double again in the next 18 months, which will mean probably doubling the people that work for us, but I’m convinced I can still know all of them personally, still keep true talent in Yummy no matter who comes shopping (yes agency people out there, we can see your activity & ‘introductions’). Our commitment to the kids, older kids & middle aged kids is really beginning to show now, Mummy P is doing a fantastic job in guiding Yummy in the right direction, nurturing & maturing talent & dreams for us, you can see how she & Tom (Daddy P) nurtured her little boy into the man he is today, I hope to do half as good a job with my boys.

But onto the business in hand.

Lucien started working directly for Ellie & I yesterday, he’s joining the A team, taking over designing the websites, #YummyTreats & the raft of associated cracking comms, which I’m looking forward to seeing. The nicest thing, he was the 6th person we employed in Yummy at the start, straight out of Sainsbury’s part time shelf stacking whilst doing his A levels, into The Wiremill. I love the fact he’s dipped in & out of Yummy for the past 7 years, through education, work, watching him grow into the fella he is today & now he’s back, in a position that suits him, perfectly. I hope to keep & develop him for many years to come, Yummy Design Co. its got a nice little ring to it!

So the best way to say goodbye to 2014? Do it in pictures, here’s to 2015, it’s going to be a cracking year if all our plans play out.

Best employer in the hospitality industry? You bet ya!

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The first time I learnt of the AFD was at the ripe old age of 16, three days in, keen to impress. 21 years later, 21 hours in (yesterday into last night, into this morning, no clocking in & out mistakes kids) is an AFD for me, but it feels a whole lot harder now I’m an old git!

Today is a struggle, so pen to paper, coffee, chair, food.

Of course I knew how to work hard, my old man made sure of that, nothing has ever come easy to me, I have earned every, single, penny. I was showing Finn Utube videos of turkeys ‘gobbling’ this morning before school, because he didn’t believe me they made that noise…he laughed a lot!


He’s a camel in the Christmas nativity at 2 today, he makes an impressive camel noise, almost like a dinosaur (Stego), with just a hint of chicken. Times have changed, I was in the turkey shed on the farm right now, with mum & dad when I was 5 years old, chasing them to the eventful end (didn’t do the end bit until a few years on) Lucy doesn’t believe me so I’m going to have mum tell her ALL the stories over Christmas! But its true, thats how I was brought up & the ethos runs through my blood into Yummy everyday, play hard, work harder, farm from the land.


My boys have also changed the way I appreciate people. My colour profiles (I was profiled a lot in Carlsberg!) suggest ‘Green’ (people) in my conscious decision making & priorities, is (was) one of the lowest scores you could possibly get & its meant to get better in the subconscious, mine basically hit zero, the trainer was how can you say it “intrigued”. Its surprising as I’ve built my entire business on people, but maybe not when I look at the fact I could replace any single one of them, at anytime & evolve. Short term pain for long term gain, no one is part of the furniture, everyone earns their place in my business, not one person stands above another, there ain’t no ‘i’ in Yummy – literally!

I think the important thing is that’s what everyone who works for me knows that.

Will I nurture them, protect them, defend them, treat them like one of the family, embrace them, develop them, give them total authority, every opportunity afforded to me?

Abso – bloody – lutely.

 Because that is Yummy. Its trust. Both five letter words (Finn is learning how to read, write & spell & as it would seam, so am I) both have the same meaning, cause & ethos.

Having said all of that I need leaders in my business. I need innovators, people, people. Of late I think I’ve found them, the early indications with some teething problems & some difficult conversations, some still in progress would suggest so. At the moment I poached them, thanks to the hard work of my peers or affiliates in the early stages of their careers, its now my turn to sculpt them. But change is coming, I intend to build my own, I have plenty of candidates already being nurtured in my business.

But, right now I’m also looking for more – via the dog & bone 07725 726847.

Got an itch? 2015 is the time to scratch it.

Yummy boys

56.7% like for like sales growth in the first 20 weeks of the new Yummy year? Yep, the magic 50% mark has been well & truly smashed with last weeks performance across all Yummy sites. It also marks the period in just 24 months where we have now doubled turnover in the pubs with only adding one new site to the fold 16 weeks ago, average weekly sales are being reported in six digits, week in week out. Are we making a bundle? Nope, Tim still rides to work on a bike (nice one), Anthony still drives his clapped out Honda, (if it starts) & Jason loves paying off the HP, but we’ve put ourselves in a position to grow into 2015 with new sites coming in quick succession, the pipeline is built, the strategy is agreed, our people are getting into place & the Yummy sleepers have been activated, whats not to love in the pub game?
It’s folk law a great GM can add 30% increased turnover to a business in the pub game, clearly with a sprinkling of three awesome owners, the nurturing of fresh talent & the loyalty that surprises me daily, Yummy ain’t making folk law, we’re laying down foundations for how it should be done.
To all our supporters out there have an amazing Christmas, for the first time in 7 years, I’m off on Friday, I have a family to enjoy, my other family can look after themselves for a bit. See you on the other side.

“Transform and roll”


Thats the calling, the calling for all Yummy sleepers……

These three are calling you back, no matter where you are, what you are doing, it’s time to come home, it’s time to come back to Yummy…

We are calling….(we can’t keep doing al this kitchen s&*t…)

Hand in your notice (a nice long period please), tell them you’re sorry, but Yummy is where you belong, Yummy is the future, Yummy is home. 2015 is not just another year, its THE YEAR & boy do we have some fun lined up!

(AP) has become chairman of the BII, so that just means (TF) + (JR) are in charge, bloody hell let the fun times roll! Too many cooks in the kitchen? Well, we’ve fixed that…..

Let us introduce you to the new Yummy leadership team =

Anthony Pender = Managing Director (MD) = guiding the company in the right direction

(he’s done a pretty good job so far, might as well have the business card to say so)

Jason Rowlands = Operations Director (OP) = it should have happened a long time ago (but we couldn’t let him out of the kitchen, not that he’s out, he’s just part-time now)

Tim Foster = Head of Being Awesome (HBA) = he’s a pain in the arse, but he’s Yummy, the entire reason for being Yummy = a pain in the arse, but awesome, job title suits :) Learning boundaries would be nice, 21 years & its not happened yet, there’s always hope, awesome, thats what Yummy is, that’s the past, the present, & the future…

The Yummy Team, our team, our people = The leaders & inspiration in Yummy = our future…no matter the job title, no matter the grade, everyone has a voice in Yummy, everyone makes a difference…


….Theo. He says ‘Yessssssssssss” (bribed by petit fours)…GB in the making? Oh Yes.

If he could say anything other than mmmmimmmmm, mummmm, daaaaaaaaaa, mimmmmmmm, he would say “It’s the people in Yummy that make Yummy, not the buildings, the pubs, the style, its the people, that’s what makes Yummy (he’s very wise for a 9 month old, & big, he’s very big, well, “chunky”) in our people we will grow, in our people we will be exceptional”.

Yummy is calling…..

Rosco, get off the island………tout suite….


Edwardo, bail from the lounging types, Alex is ace, but Alex is a long, long, way away……

(ps) We LOVE Bob, we’ll we don’t actually, he’s a corporate robot, a result of managed models, a div, let peacocks fly……..peacocks without wings (clipped) squark, peacocks who can fly….create, inspire, r(ev)olutionsise, think you’ll need some of that dude.. (Alex, if you’re reading (big boss), he’s a twat, he’s not Loungers, he’s not you, he’s not how I LOVE YOU, he’s a twat, I can say that because I don’t employ him, he’s a twat…) Loungers = love, Loungers = people, Loungers = where we started. Change is good. I gave him to you with my blessing that you would look after him, I can take him away as easily as I let him go.

Let peacock fly. See what they do.

Image 6

Parry, time to deport (or I’ll release all ph0to’s, (all photos) … timeline for returning emailed please)


Tobias, sort the visa. (We’ll send over the Marshall & Shields, but there’re coming home, get it sorted please, the GB’s are waiting for their super star (ps, thats you)


Ashock, plane.

(You ARE Yummy). We LOVE you. Always will.


  “Transform and roll”

47% like for like sales last week, Yummy are not just here, Yummy are smashing it. Time to come home people, 2015 is calling.

16 weeks in, a new chairman & My Captain, my captain….still having fun in Yummy….



Who knew that when we created The Gorringe family & chose Anthony as the captain, two short years later (almost to the day!) he would be announced as the new chairman for the BII??! I certainly didn’t see it coming!

Looked good then, looks just as good today, well, Friday when we tried to create a new PR shot for him with an iPhone, a very short amount of sleep & a good dose of editing software. Personally, I think he should use the captain shot.

Has it caused a slight stir in this fine industry of ours? Why of course it has, we even debated it for a good few weeks when he mentioned he wanted to put his name in the ring, but then that’s our Anthony. I know he is totally blown away by the positive comments & shear volume of support he’s had since it was announced last week & I know he will make a difference, hell, that’s what Yummy do & the boy is Yummy.

So what can a 32 year old bring to the roll? Well, he reads a lot.

He talks a lot.

He makes a lot of sense, most of the time.

He knows how to grow something from a core base.

& probably more importantly he’s already demonstrated with the Perceptions Group what can be done when you get a number of passionate people into a room, then focus on the end result, then be determined to make a difference (if creating Yummy isn’t enough) after all that’s why we started Yummy, we were bored of watching other people bumble along when they could smash down walls, I’m excited to see the difference he can make.


As for the first 16 weeks of the new year in Yummy, well all sites are in growth V’s last year, we’ve pushed budgets hard so we are just off the mark on that, but +32% like for like sales in the first 16 weeks is a number we can live with, controlling our costs is a big one now, this is where we’re focusing our teams, control the controllables, that’s what will make the difference between a great year & an exceptional one. But, after 7 years of continuous growth, its time to focus on our baby again, give her a spruce up, take on some of the big boys who have moved in locally, see if we can innovate the mill, again. For us it’s not about revolution, but evolution of the pub, although seeing a presentation from the revolution guys, I have got to get into some of their places & have a look, what a change in such a short time, exciting & terrifying how hard everyone is having to work to be at the top of their game.

As such we went on a pub tour, unplanned, but needed. Sometimes you can spend too long in your own business & you have to force yourself to spend sometime out of it.

Much has been said about good old Harvey’s taking back Dunnings mill from a chap we respect highly some weeks ago. We think Brian, like most of our peers is one of the top, top retailers & a company we aspire to. Sadly, they are killing what he took years to create, it was horrific. Will they get it right? I don’t think so, the heart that’s needed, the soul in a pub just wasn’t there & with their approach, for me, its just a big building with some furniture in it, the team looked as happy to be there as we did, I was stunned. It certainly gave us a wake up call that there is a very fine line between success & failure.

After disturbing a team meeting in the next site visit (which they didn’t stop even when we sat down & nobody else was in the pub), then to enter a really great site, tonnes of cash spent, but a really confused offer we began to grow in confidence that locally we’re still special, when we’re on our A game. That’s the objective now, every hour we are open, every interaction with a supplier, customer, guest, colleague, we’re on our A game, in every Yummy pub.


We’ve got some great new people joining the team & I’m really excited to see the passion they will bring with them, as Head of Being Awesome, it’s my job to make sure Yummy is the best place to be, for every interaction with my business, we’re going to be the best we can be & in doing so, we’re going to grow.

Better turn in, big day tomorrow, Jason is having to do public speaking, whoever saw that one coming…..maybe Finny will when we rig him up the the Yummyometerfuturethinkermagizmo again…we need to get a better name for that.


Building a future in Yummy…


One of our non exec board members (actually, we only have one) started school this year, time is certainly flying by…..

He’s a bit hipster, but we own a boozer in #EastLondon now, we need that cutting edge insight in Yummy. Anyhow, since he’s been given the opportunity to learn, its staggering what he’s coming home either having learnt or asking questions about, daily. From months of trying to encourage him to pick up a pen & write his name with complete failure, we are now ripping through reams of paper nightly with dinosaur drawings, dragon drawings, the alphabet, his name, Theo’s name, homework…it’s relentless….


  …& fascinating to be part of, I especially like the first ‘Dad’ drawing, he’s nailed it.


On 12th May 2012 a young kid joined Yummy in one of my kitchens, non skilled, with a desire to learn. After a few weeks we placed him on an apprenticeship scheme & promised to develop him, well, Jason did. Three weeks ago the same kid walked into his own kitchen as my head chef, it would seam anything is possible in this industry, anything is possible in Yummy.


We’ve given James the opportunity to develop, he’s done the rest. There’s still a huge amount for him to learn, he certainly isn’t at the cutting edge yet, but he will be soon, I’m convinced. It’s also not been plain sailing, we’ve had plenty of bumps along the way, but that’s what you sign up for when you base your entire business on people.

We employ 103 people in Yummy & a staggering 21 of those 103 have found their way to Yummy through recommendation from people already here or those that have now moved on, we’re really proud of that. We hosted a training day today with a handful of our future stars as part of our Yummy Academy & the desire to learn, develop & make a difference in Yummy was brilliant to be part of. The diversity in Yummy is also fab, in fact I think it’s unique. Today was about focusing all of the different styles & personalities on one sole goal #customerexcellence in Yummy. I’m determined we will delight every customer, not just a few. Make a lasting impression that will allow my existing business to continue to grow at the staggering pace it is, it’s all about people, thanking them for choosing us with every action, every pour, every chip, every smile, you can’t train that, that’s culture.


Bottom line, everyone that works for me genuinely wants us to succeed, to be a fundamental part of something special we are building together, there’s a lotta love in Yummy right now.


Living the dream…


29.09.2104 is a date that will live in the memories & dreams for two young(ish) men for the rest of their lives. On my visit at 4.30pm for the first official opening day of The Union Street Coffee House by The Gentlemen Baristas the boys looked like s@!t, exhausted, excited, proud, ready….from employees to employers, life will never quite be the same again.

I think today they realise what it is to own your own business.

Its a bit like having children – you never appreciate the sentiment when somebody tells you its ‘life changing’, I certainly didn’t. Owning your own business is the same, but when I look back, old & grey & I’ve built something to be proud of, i’ll smile, for now, it business as bloody usual.

However, I intend to build many a business yet.


 As for my GB’s, Union Street looks great. The coffee was tasty, the welcome was homely, I can’t wait for my Pilate latte in the morning, the first of many, Yummy are in the coffee business now, time to build another winning business. Its injected a new pace into Yummy too, its helped us to focus in on what is actually important in all the ‘noise’, its so easy to get distracted from what is actually going to make a difference, what is actually important to business.

We’re tiny in the grand scheme of things, we turnover a good few million quid, growing way ahead of the market & I genuinely think we’ve built something a bit special. But we’ve decided to start acting a little bit bigger. The word ‘board meeting’ has entered our diaries this week, in reality its three chaps around a table chatting about the business, but we are the board & we are in a meeting. So, to get a flavour for our business we are also having shadow board meetings, asking one yummy from each site to attend a half day, give views on their site & opinions of the wider team for us to then act. Its a dangerous tact, but one we hope will pay dividends.

Late last night I received the minutes.

I think its really going to help. One thing screams out, even with a tiny little company like mine, the same battles exist within every single business I have ever been in, communication. What happened before blogs, emails, texts, Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook? I think everyone just talked. But if I had to talk to 109 people, every week, I would get nothing ‘constructive’ done, or would I? Should I just spend my weeks talking? Think I could handle it, its what I do best, ‘….when talking about pubs’ as Lucy would throw in.

Or is it getting everyone to talk? 10 minutes a day. Structure, process, no bloody texts. How long would it last?

So if I ran a pub & not a pub company, this is what I would do. This is what I did do.

I talked. Mine was actually for 15 minutes a day, with a bacon butty, a coffee, a pen & some paper, ask two boys & a girl how we transformed a week not so long ago. Front of house & kitchen didn’t exist in my pub, team did. The day before was reviewed, the upcoming day was laid out, challenges were set down, tasks were dished out. I worked hard & I played hard & so did my team.

The biggest challenge I’m going to take from the minutes is ‘What is Yummy?’ Its referred to a number of times, ‘Not Yummy’ – I need to be clear on what that actually means now & communicate it. The online dictionaries don’t help, especially the Urban Dictionary, although No.2 would be very funny in an appraisal.


The GB’s have got all this to come, its going to be exciting. I’ve gone into business with two complete loons, I’m banking on them being creative geniuses, but loon fits for now.

Fancy a cuppa? Pop in, 63 Unions Street, Southwark, just down the road from London Bridge.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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;

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Just Opened

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The Metropolis

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Its rude to stare

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Bar chick

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100 cups of coffee

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London Town

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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….


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