A new Yummy Non exec director to the board….

At 3.05pm on 11.03.2014 we welcomed Theo Beau Foster to the board of Yummy Pub Co. His brother, ‘Head of future developments’ is very pleased to welcome him to the team & looks forward to seeing the development of Theo’s role as “Head of venue comfort & security” (he arrived 4 days past his due date as he was so comfortable & he’s a big boy).


Young master Theo has already begun to ponder how he can help us with our challenges in the future & made a fair point yesterday afternoon that we really do need to address – our baby changing facilities at all the sites, average is no longer good enough, exceptional is required, the babies have arrived! I have some ideas (borrowed with pride from the NHS).

So, exciting times ahead. It was great to read the story this week about little directors in Spirit, maybe they got the idea from Finns promotion a few years back as a non-exec director, or maybe its just the right thing to do. It’s Finns influence that brought about all the changes for the Grove into the Grove Pantry Pub & Inn, which is most defiantly beginning to show green shoots under the sterling leadership of young miss Crawford, so we can prove listening to the next generation will shape the future.

In the last blog I mentioned about being in the hands of women & I promised an update.

Well, given I have been under house arrest for quite sometime, I have only been able to hear second hand reports, but the news thus far is more than encouraging. I think it’s time for women to start running things, our industry has secretly watched as they’ve entered a very male dominated space, but the qualities a female eye is bringing to us is brilliant to see, the boys have their work cut out for them now (Ryan is attempting a slightly different approach to development into that area, we will see how his strategy pans out).


Our Yummy family is growing & its brilliant to see.

We know there will be bumps in the road, its really interesting to manage expectations now, to make our teams & individuals that make those team accountable for their own actions. We can create opportunities, but we are not giving them away just because people are there. It takes will power, vision & bloody hard work to do what we have done, risking everything to create something.

Theo & Finn will both learn that.

My family business will be built & driven on talent, not on blood, its what I have always found to be so frustrating with some of the family businesses we trade with, its outdated, its stale & in quite a number of the interactions we have had, the family members should just not be there. We will be the new age family business, Katy will give us another cracking member of the team, with a teeny, tiny little bit of help from Jason. As for Anthony, well, he’s still just a baby anyway, theres plenty of time…..

Lets see what happens with my boys, they may just hate it (doubtful), being in one of the most diverse & fascinating businesses in the land.

However, without me (except on the phone & behind my computer 247) my teams have delivered, again, exceptional results. February 2014 ends with like for like sales +15.6% across the sites, Somerstown & The Grove the front runners with The Gorringe & mill coming in a close third & fourth respectively. It was looking like we were going to hit low to medium +20%’s until the idiots who run our road infrastructures decided to close the only road to get to the Wiremill, for a staggering 5 days no less, doing very, very little on inspection.

Bureaucracy, diplomacy, I have little time for either, just two words that get in the way of progress & common sense.

But, we deal with the cards we are dealt, maybe shutting the road helped us beat Mothers Day 2013 on a standard Sunday, or maybe it was the lovely weather? Either way, the team (half the size it would have needed to be) worked their socks off & handled the expectations of our customers admirably. Sure we will get some fall out, ask anyone who runs, works in or has the experience of handling double the demand with half the resource, doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work it out.

Thats not to say we don’t take it seriously, we hate poor reviews & we always react. It does throw up some challenges to us that Theo & Finn will need to help with – expectations & how to react to issues, I wonder what it will all look like in 18 years time? We always say we need to be out & about more, in other peoples businesses not just ours. Its easy to say, not quite so easy to do. Funny enough, that is all I used to do at Carlsberg, I was always happiest when I was out helping people develop their businesses. This week has allowed me to be out of the business & simple things have come to light.

Signage. The NHS are incredibly poor at it, so are we. I’ve been in a foreign place to me for some 10 days now off & on. Two different hospitals, one old, one brand new & they are both as bad as each other. We had to walk this way & that, by the time we were at our destination we were already in the wrong mood for the poor person awaiting us. On my return, there will be a full review of our signage & directions, both in venue, menu, rooms, people……

The lifetime value of a customer. More pertinent now that last week, I think its fascinating to see how this impacts my business. I’ve just left Open Table as a supplier to my company since the very beginning. Online was not big, but it was going to be, that was our vision. No points for getting that right, but it was one of the ‘big money’ things I did at the mill. We couldn’t afford it, but the boys trusted me. 7 years on I generated about £15,000 per year for them in revenue from bookings across the sites & fees for the software. Everyone I met when tendering the offer advised the poor stories about leaving them, I took it on board, but didn’t really think it could be the case.

Boy, was I wrong.

I replied to an email today (shouldn’t be doing it really, but Lucy knows you can’t stop me working) where I made a statement I never thought I would make ‘I will never trade with your company for the rest of my working career’. I leave everyone with the view that this is a very, very big industry, with an incredibly small network of people, everything comes in circles, cider trends, cask trends, food trends & people, they always pop up somewhere.

Lifetime value of a customer.

Can it be true though? Does it still exist with the choice in the market, the change in consumers habits & our incredible expectations? I’ll do some work on it, I think it is still out there, maybe Yummy Treats will be the secret to engaging the right customers to have a lifetime relationship with & train my guys to know the difference between a blagger & a true customer. Standing waiting for my coffee in the very swish Soho Coffee Co. at the hospital I observed the difference between the two. A lady approached the counter & companied in a really lovely way the condition of her sandwich. The staff didn’t hesitate in offering her an alternative. 30 seconds later another lady approached the counter with a totally different tact, demanding, hostile, frankly just rude. To the absolute credit of the staff, they acknowledged her issue, gave the answer & sent the lady on her way “the liquid at the bottom of your sandwich box is tomato juice…there is nothing wrong with it” was her result.

She walked off, cursing, sat at a table with 6 other people, 4 of which put their heads down & ignored her whilst she ranted about the experience to the other 2, pointing at the staff member & shaking her head inspecting her sandwich box, then tucking in. I’m going to see if there is a Trip Advisor page for them in a minute, I wonder what the expectations of a coffee shop in a hospital are that looks & feels like a restaurant, is it a restaurant or is it a coffee shop, or indeed is it a hospital?

Now, I’m off for some cuddles for a few days, the computer can gather some dust, the bigger Yummy boys have everything in hand.


It was always going to happen, if we’re honest…..

GF_Garden flooding with Pickle_2014

…women are now running all of our pubs (officially).

With the departure on Sunday night of young Mr Alistair Shaw, who is leaving us for the heady highs of Canada on a totally new adventure, my four fabulous pubs are in the hands of women; young, driven, charismatic, women. Its a frightening thought.

Ally leaves with a HUGE thank you from us, personally from me, I am so proud of him.

He has turned from a scruffy young man, interviewed in a crap coffee shop in Kettering, given a chance or ‘punt’ as I think I called it at the time, into a scruffy (still), talented young GM who has transformed himself into a manager capable of taking a multi million pound site to new growth, month in, month out & fronted every challenge with renewed enthusiasm & drive. Looking back I know he is glad that I refused (unconditionally) to accept his resignation 12 months ago when things were really tough, he leaves a site in tip top shape for Tonya to really put the gas on & for that I will always be grateful. A place remains here in Yummy for him, whenever he returns, probably pot wash, maybe as Ginger Santa Part 2, but its his fault for wanting to get life experience & live his dreams, fool.


So, the women are now in charge. We will now see if it is true; can women really multitask better than men? Women already know the answer (apparently) I’m looking forward to the results.

The start of 2014 has been pretty eventful, we saved the Wiremill from being destroyed, the army used the Grove as base camp for a number of days & all out Monopoly war broke out at the Gorringe. Cosy is getting rave reviews across the journalistic stratosphere in blog sites, magazines & from new fans to the Somers Town, apart from one old git, but we’re just not his cup of tea.

We’ve also produced the best sales results from the past 6 years with site sales up +18% in Jan, with the Grove under water since Christmas Eve, that’s not bad going. The star of the sites is once again the Somers Town, trading at +29% & it will smash that number to pieces as Feb comes to a close. Obviously last year it was snowing right now, with the Wiremill & Grove having to close for a number of days so Feb is looking to match those numbers & we intend to deliver big time in March with a fast start on the month as I think the danger of snow has now passed.

We have a lot of new people joining the business as we lumber up for summer & make some management changes, I’m looking forward to see the impact of new eyes & experience.


We were ‘news worthy’ just after the summer this year. We hired a local chap to dredge the mill race, you’re probably sick of that word now, so are the people in the Somerset Levels. Anyway, with one thing or another (bloody great big bits of tree in the run) they needed to use heavy machinery to do the job. It is also a little known fact that you can’t remove silt from a dredged river location, you must leave it to naturally degrade on the river banks. After much expense, doing as we were told by the environment agency – a job that needed to have been done for quite some years to stop the entire area from flooding if god forbid we had a bad winter, we found ourselves at the end of a bad situation. As we do, we found a resolution, but not before people said how nasty we were & how could we have done such a thing.

Well, by luck or fortune if we hadn’t have dredged said river this year, our beautiful mill would have been totally flooded & a number of houses around us. Do the papers want to run a really positive story like that? Of course they don’t, positive stories, what are they?

….then the army came & boy did Lucy have some fun…


…Oh & so did Tara…


…& Hugh….


….& Ryan….

GF_Cellar flooding 2014

 …..our free hugs with every cuppa were warmly redeemed, Hugh tried to make some impressions on various soldiers with his ambition to sign up, but the army have a freeze on goat recruitment, apparently & we watered down a few kegs….

Has it been horrific for the guys on site & beyond any of our controls? Yep. Would the Grove still be trading had we been an independent, one site operator? No way. Is that the end of a run of bad luck for that site? Probably not, but hell, keep throwing it at us, it would be boring to have a strait forward, profitable, warm pub, wouldn’t it?

Monopoly warfare has broken out at the Gorringe, which just proves we are learning how to run a beautiful locals boozer, well, we think thats proof. I love going there now, we really have created something fab in that site & I’m very excited to see it blossom under the guidance of the geeky chic….


As for Cosy Kettle, well we’re thrilled to bits with it. Our first toe dipping into something new & its working…

So, the women are in charge.

I’m now ‘grounded’ at home waiting for the next little arrival to lighten up my life, make me feel emotions which are simply impossible to articulate & keep me up with lack of sleep, puke smelling clothes, as tired as I was four years ago, almost to the day, can’t wait. The only downside, its going to be a few weeks until I see what the women have been doing in person, lucky for me ‘the cloud’ exists, time to get updating websites & marketing strategies.

A sad day in Yummy, but justice was served, sort of…..


Its no secret, we are a family in my company & we give our team a huge amount of respect, trust & freedom, its what makes us Yummy…

…But, on the 5th August 2013 our trust was betrayed in the most shocking of ways. On 8th January 2014 we saw a sort of justice, but he went down lying, no change there then.

Aron Sheridan was appointed by me, as my GM & future part owner of the Grove Ferry Inn, in Kent. Then, a pub you could say we were struggling to help find a purpose & soul, its a beautiful building, but with beautiful buildings always comes challenges & the Grove has had a lifetime of them. Anthony, Jason & I have always had a vision for the site despite everything we should have walked away from the pub years ago, but we’re not often wrong about things in Yummy & failing is just not in our culture.

Aron was to be the guy we could trust, the perfect fit. He grew up just up the road, mum & dad lived on the lane, recently married, head chef for a number of tip top places in & around Canterbury, born out of being an Army cook, looking to learn front of house & dreamt of owning a share of the Grove with us, his childhood dream. Sound too good to be true? Yep.

Theft always hurts, its a symptom of the trade & handling cash, it always happens whether its dipping into tips that starts it or the people doing it feel hard done by, “I deserve a little more” they tell themselves, “I work hard for it, why shouldn’t I”  or the odd drink after work, but £19,000 is just a little too much to “borrow” as we were told when he realised we had been onto him for a while. Apparently he “owed money to the wrong people” & had “to pay them or else…” Funny that, not what was said in court by his defence yesterday….

If that wasn’t enough a set of keys were used to open the pub at 2am on a murky monday morning to allow two shadowy figures to enter, undetected (because the site was in fact empty) & take just 1 minute & 32 seconds to open a password protected till (under a staff members name) find the way to the back office system, which takes a number of buttons & processes, walk to where our safe is safely hidden, not in the usual places you would expect a safe to be in a pub & empty it’s entire contents to the tune of £22,000.

We haven’t been able to prove it was Aron. Yet.

£41,000 in hard earned cash, which 20% of it’s not even ours, it belongs to HMRC, oh & still does because they don’t care, we took the money, its our fault we had it stolen so we still have to pay it, on the stolen money we can prove as well so kiss goodbye to another £6,833…then come the lies…..


If its not hard enough having to replace a GM that morning & open the pub that evening (which we did) trying to deal with people who had paid deposits for weddings we had no knowledge off, being shown copies of PO numbers that we don’t use, copies of receipts where the money is paid directly in Mr A. Sheridans personal account was sickening & a huge challenge for our team, who all delivered & some. A call to say they are just confining a wedding reception on a Thursday for the Saturday coming for 60 people, 60 people that we had no booking for despite a sold ‘promise’ from a liar & cheat that it was everything, ‘honest’.

We questioned ourselves for weeks following all of this. How did we get it so wrong, how could we have let him into our company, how? But, coming to terms with it, we realised you can’t second guess everything out there, sometimes you just have to roll with it.

But & there is always a but, we are stronger, better, smarter, quicker, because of it.


This is my pub without him, it has a heart, a beating soul, a bright, bright future & we bounced, we were strong enough in our other businesses to cover the loss, it made us step back, it stopped our growth into a new site. We already had a number of personal claims being fought with our insurance company & we were looking at huge payment hikes to our premiums if we had claimed the little we could to cover the cost, so we’ve taken the hit, personally, our team haven’t suffered, we have, because we believe in Yummy, we believe we are capable of great things & every time someone does something nasty to us, we just bounce back, having more fun each time.


Our processes, standards & measurable systems have taken a complete overhaul in the past 6 months, its like Fort Yummy Knox in my company now & it’s help us to grow. Our like for like sales in December were breath taking & that’s with us focusing on everything at the bottom line, not the top, 2014 is going to be a superb year in Yummy, even if we did start it by destroying a shed, paying an arborist more in one month than we have paid in 7 years, but then its a good time to be an arborist right now….



Yesterday Aron was sent to jail for 8 months, when he comes out he’ll be faced with us asking for our money back, justice was served, sort of….It was a sad day for Yummy on 5th August, its a better day today.

Pig in greenhouse, tree smashed garage, the busiest 5 weeks EVER in Yummy…time for a retox


So, I was a little quiet in December with the blog.

It wasn’t because we had nothing great to blurb on about, it was that we were so busy running pubs our feet hardly touched the ground! Our fantastic team at all the sites pulled out the stops to deliver brilliant service & food to the hoards of people bundling through our doors, if anyone says the pub is dead & people don’t want to use them anymore, they are wrong, or in the wrong pub.


The beginning of the year has been quite a challenge, we now have a new ‘non purpose built lake’ instead of a garden at The Grove, 30 tonnes of tree to season into fire wood at the mill & somehow transport to The Grove & Gorringe for the fires & my lovely lakeside pods have taken a total battering, but we’re surviving & Lucy has become ‘Farmer Lu’ & loving it, Ali is looking forward to leaving for his travels after delivering an exceptional year at the mill (could have been better, but I’ll always say that), but he’s beginning to get quite sad that he is having to leave us (we’ve caught him having ‘secret tears’ in the corridor, not that he admitted it), Jess has become one of the best GM’s in the industry through out December (in my humble opinion) & I’m so looking forward to seeing her just keep developing in 2014 & Amy is finding her feet super speedy at The Gorringe…..


…so what does 2014 hold for Yummy?

Well, we need a new shed, but that was rather unexpected so we have another pub sorted first, top secret on location, name, who with or not with, when, how & why, but she’s a beauty, we have more work to grow our amazing pubs still further, the introduction of Cosy Kettle to The Somers Town is testament to our intentions of developing every square inch available to us & we still have plenty of scope in all 4 pubs to deliver some more innovative & industry leading plans to continue growing them, but 2014 is about Yummy people, 2012 & 2013 were just the warm up years…

Lucy & Pickle

New, fresh faces will be joining Yummy, Matt has started 2014 officially as Yummy Ops Director (we’re getting him some flashy new business cards, might even be embossed ones…probably have them by Oct/Nov time) & will end 2014 owning a share of his own Yummy pub with us, he will step from managerish (we never use that word really) to director to owner in one swift, painless move, impressive stuff for a 24 year old.

We need a new pig.

I’m having a new baby which is very exciting.

Anthony has just got a new bathroom, almost.

Jason is having a new baby, which is very exciting as I love the thought of him having to go pram shopping.

Stuart will come back from Vietnam, energised, ready to train to become a future Yummy owner.

Toby is going home on Friday to Oz, but booked the ticket to come back at the end of March, he still has plenty of bottle tops to collect & I’m looking forward to having him back.

Sarah has mastered the art of the chalkboard pen as well as becoming quite a star performer.

Alexander ‘Home & Away’ McIntyre is our Yummy Dream Maker, you’ll be hearing plenty about him this year.

Waffles, this year is all about mastering the art of the waffle.

Yummy is going to have a stunning 2014, it’s just mean’t to be.



Dinosaurs & Battenburg

It must be quite depressing to write a blog that’s always about what someone else is doing.

Cosy Kettle_Cocktails & Cakes

It’s like the Trip Advisor reviewers I really enjoy looking at – written so others can view in admiration of their travels & adventures, largely written with poor grammar, or just trying to be clever without the natural ability of wit. I have wit, had that since school, grammar, clearly not, but then I don’t use Trip Advisor.

It is clear as I get older, greyer, more informed, that there are two types of people; glass half empty or glass half full people. Obviously there is plenty of balance between these two distinct characters, but I make a point of surrounding myself with glass half full people, I don’t tend to like glass half empty people very much, they normally have a chip on their shoulder & always try to ‘out smart’ someone, normally just for the sake of it.

I found such a blog this week. It made me smile, then it made me quite sad, not because of the content (although the literature was all over the place & very difficult to keep a flow, especially as there were no paragraphs in the entire blurb) but thinking of the person on the other side of the computer screen, clearly not understanding a concept & getting confused that a kettle in a ‘coffee house’ is a pun on a copper kettle, not on a type of fish, but then I didn’t really like the way he talked about my people in the review either, he was actually quite rude, so I stopped reading it & read one of the twenty or so other reviews – this one was pretty cool. Maybe we pissed him off because we decided not to invite him for a preview, because we knew he wouldn’t like it, it really isn’t his cup of tea (because we research things like that with a little help from our friends before we do things) & he had to go on his own accord. I don’t know if that was it or because we overcharged him, because I don’t have any cocktails on my list for £9.80. Either way, I do know that everyday a concept is miss-interpreted by people with no vision.

 Somers Town Bike

However, I do like to read a good story. I prefer ones with pictures & having a young four year old son is becoming very entertaining, especially when you are reading dinosaur books for bedtime. I seriously had no idea there were so many different dino’s (as we like to call them) out there. Obviously they’re not there any longer, they became extinct, but our future generations still talk about them, with passion, amazement, imagination – well, mine does, a lot. Maybe, that’s what will become of the ‘pub’ in 100 million years from now, big clunky things that got wiped out, by something, no one quite knows, but then the dino’s just evolved into Crocs & Sharkies, so maybe there will be a pub still in existence rather than pictures, movies & museums to remember them, just one that doesn’t really look like a pub anymore?

For now, we’re evolving our pubs for the next generation, if it doesn’t work, well, then we’ll change it into something else, but for now, it’s actually working, really, really well. I run bloody good boozers, with a bit of grub, a lot of smiles & an exceptional, likeable, talent of people, with just a little splash of fun.

Two weeks ago I opened a cocktail bar.

It’s been fun.

Now the really fun bit begins, as we start to develop it.

Cosy before

We don’t buy nice shiny things, we pick something up that is generally ok, alright, does the job & turn it into something exceptional, we’ve done that with Somers Town. I was asked to write a 170 word blurb yesterday for the Top 50 Gastro Pubs 2014, as for the second year running we’ve been shortlisted, which is fab. When I wrote it, I sat back & took in just what we have created;

‘Tucked away on a leafy street between London Euston & St Pancras stations you will find The Somers Town Coffee House, now trading across three separate floors. On entering the building you enter a traditional, oak clad London pub serving an innovative menu of British Tapas, The Munch Box lunch boxes & a selection of large plates. Venturing through a bookcase at the rear of the pub you are taken to Ssshh… on the 1st Floor, set in four unique rooms. British Tapas is still a feature on offer, with the addition of a bespoke monthly Ssshh menu & secret supper clubs throughout the month. If you decided to venture downstairs as opposed to up, you would have found Cosy Kettle, a speakeasy cocktail club serving cocktails matched to cakes, which is a new innovation in December 2013 for the pub.’

Ssshh kitchen room

An entire delivery lorry

Cosy cocktails

In a little over two years we have taken a nice pub to become an exceptional business. On a much, much, much, smaller scale it reminded me of my time, in a red, golden-buttoned waistcoat, in the toy department of Harrods.

I’ve always worked, my dad did give me that quality & I’m passing it onto Finn as soon as he’s tall enough to reach a commercial kitchen sink, he will be in it, despite what his mother says (she doesn’t read this so I can put it in here)…

I was put into the toy department because I was a nice boy, rode ponies as a young adult, was in the pony club & for some reason kids just flock to me, maybe because I have never grown up? Whatever the reason, every Saturday for 3 years, without fail & the entire summer months you would find me in room 4 (soft toys) with a Harrods teddy under one arm, surrounded by kids wondering how he was waving at them – the teddy (it was just my hand up the bears jumper, but none of the kids knew that). I made it up, before I arrived, a lot of people walked straight past room 4, the person standing at the end (we had to always have someone there) bored out of their brain, to room 1 where all the cool toys were – scalextric, trains, helicopters, kid sized Porches & Bentleys, but not when I was sent to the end of our room; when that happened, I had the attention of the little mites, just for one minute, a smile from a mum or dad who had a second to glace into our room & browse, then we had them, the art of distraction.

Once we had them, we could sell them everything they never knew they wanted. On most occasions that was the entry level Harrods branded goodie, for us a £10 teddy with a jumper & Harrods embroidered logo on his foot, but in the exceptional instances, it would be a Stephens & Sons rocking horse, the finest you could find in the land. Within three months of being in the department I sold more rocking horses than anyone, even the guys there full time. I loved it, painting a picture of how fab it would look in peoples homes, how amazing it could be to pass it to generation, to generation. I took the fondness from it because we had (have) one called Royal, my mums pride & joy. I loved playing on him as a kid, as did my brother, no matter where we lived, Royal would come with us, until we had to move into a caravan, there was little space for such extravagances, so my sister took him for safe keeping. Although he was very expensive, he was there to be loved & used.

British Tapas

The best thing about Harrods though, when somebody asked you for something, you could tell them what level to find it on, we generally did have everything in the store. In a way, that’s what we are creating in Somers Town, you don’t actually have to leave us from 8am – 3am, we can keep you, entertained. Meeting room, breakfast, coffee, lunch, tea, cakes, dinner, a pint, a glass of wine, a cocktail…..

Battenburg cocktail 

….but not just any old boring cocktail like a Boulevardier mixed in 1927, it’s time to try something different, something fun, the classics are there for the less adventurous, but for the explorers, of course we haven’t got all of the answers yet, it’s a journey, we’re matching cocktails to cakes for goodness sake, nobody is doing that yet (right?) How about a Battenburg that you mix yourself? Now that is fun, we think….

Come & jump into bed with us…we promise it will be fun….

This blog will take about 4 minutes to read if you skim read, a little longer if you’re bedtime reading….

To enjoy it to it’s full potential, download one of the best tunes ever made for reading about people – Take That, The Greatest Day. I know you have doubts, but if you truly believe…..

Ready? Press play….


Yummy are growing & we’re looking for future stars, people to join our family & for us to look back in many years from now, older & greyer with pride. We’ve argued for a very long time that the aspiration of our industry should not be to find great GM’s, but to find great owners, the next generation to take our trade forwards, beyond sticky bars & branded glassware, beyond food, into the next phase of ‘pub’ be that what it may. Despite those clinging onto the past, ‘the pub’ is changing, but with one thing that will never alter, it’s for people, no more no less, a unique space for individuals to turn into groups, for groups to turn into friends, for friends to turn into history. In less that 6 months time, Matt (our Yummy Special one), will become an owner, in partnership with us, given a pub by us (part of a pub) with the knowledge that we’re there for every step of the adventure, but it’s his to build……drive………develop…………………………own.

We’re not ‘giving’ Matt a pub, we’re thanking him for turning into the owner he is today, from the 18 year old kid we inherited from buying a pub, he’s stuck with us, think & thin, from behind bars & running kitchens, to building chicken pens to racking ales & we’re truly proud of him (although we try not to have that conversation, ever – he gets embarrassed very easily, especially when we call him the special one).

But, it’s now time for us to find more special ones, 5 more in fact, its time for Yummy to have a growth spurt.

‘The Jamie’, as we fondly call him, is a role model for us, we love him. He does some great things & we’re ‘stealing with pride’ an idea of his from 10 years ago, but we’re turning it Yummy.

Fifteen was designed to prove that anyone could do fantastically well in our trade, given the right encouragement & support, no matter their past. So, 5+1+9 =15 is our creation, with a couple of differences – we’re not loaded, we’re not celebrities, we’re not on TV gold, ITV or BBC, we’re not good looking (well, with the exception of Anthony, he’s quite tasty from a distance), but we ARE going to train the chosen ones on everything, pub, not that we know everything of course, but we’ll train you on everything Yummy Pub which hasn’t done us so bad to date, plus we can learn & find new things together, which is always fun.

Modus Operandi Yummy (5+1+9=15).

Closing date for entries – New Year 00.01hrs, 01.01.2014

It’s a bit like the apprentice, but without all the annoying idiots who think they’re entrepreneurs (sorry mum, I know it’s a naughty word, but 96% of them are just pricks). It’s very similar to come dine with me, but without the £1000 prize & obscure entertainment, it’s compared to the X Factor, but you don’t need to know how to sing & Gary isn’t on the panel & it’s nothing like total wipe out USA, but we’re thinking about adding some magic balls to the process, big bouncy red ones, maybe without the swimming pool underneath?

If you’re indeed a chosen one, you’ll join us in one of our current amazing pubs, after all, what better place to start your Yummy adventure? From then on in we could put you anywhere; kitchen, front of house, Kent, Surrey, Tooting, Euston, somewhere new, over a period of 24 months…well kept, in a lovely spacious room without bunk beds, but anywhere….UK, for now.

In that time you’ll be enrolled onto the Yummy Academy; our online training, self-learning & development course to begin learning the 7 stages of Yummy.

But, & there is always a but, the most exciting bit is you’ll be given either Jason, Anthony, Tim or Matt as your personal mentor – we’ll draw straws so it’s not a difficult situation for everyone, we know there is a huge demand for Tim, but there is only so much that can go around (especially as he is now a member of a local health club, at a very reasonable rate).

…music has probably stopped now so just concentrate….

As well as your dedicated mentor you‘ll be taught everything from how to design a menu the Yummy way to running a P&L account on a 3-5 year forecast for a pub you don’t even own to peeling spuds for a Sunday lunch.  If that’s not incentive enough you’ll be given the opportunity to work with some of the best talent in our industry with our current GM’s on their way to owning their own pubs, hand picked, sculpted & developed by us, they are quite simply – exceptional.

At the end of the 24 months training we’ll put you onto a fast track ((GM = owner scheme)) where you’ll work towards owning your own site, with us, quickly.

So, who are we looking for?

If you’re chirpy, well educated in the education of life or school, hard working, youthful in looks or spirit, entertaining, curious, imaginative, you’ll fit the bill. If you’re boring, grumpy, lazy & a little bit of a moaner, you need not apply.

This position is open to anyone. You maybe a pot wash currently, a GM for another company, just graduated or searching for something that just feels right. To stand out from the crowd you need to make us smile, we’re quite simple individuals, might just be a joke or a nice picture, we like pictures. We’ll leave the finer details of the application to you, if you feel we need to see your CV, attach one, a covering letter is always good & what makes you tick, that’s what makes you individual, that’s what makes you Yummy.

In the first week of January 2014 we‘ll examine every applicant in detail. You can send us your details by email or pigeon, whichever works for you. If via pigeon please send to Yummy Operations, The Yummy Bunker, The Somers Town Coffee House, 60 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1HS for the attention of Tim, Yummy Kingpin. If via email please send to tim@yummypubs.co.uk .

So, to map it out;

Stage 1: Applications in by 00.01hrs 01.01.2014 no late applications will be accepted, there will be no extension of deadlines.

Stage 2: On 07.01.2014 we will contact the short list of applicants for a face 2 face meeting with us to discuss all things you.

Stage 3: On 14.01.2014 we’ll contact the successful ‘Special Ones’ to work through a notice period of the current employment for an appropriate start date, venue & position within Yummy.

Stage 4: You will become Yummy.

Stage 5: You will become a GM in Yummy.

Stage 6: You will become an owner in Yummy.

Stage 7: We (not royal, just us) will get old & grey, quicker than expected, despite the best efforts of just for men.

If you think this is some kind of hoax, read up on us, we’re anything but conventional both in pub & in practice.

We look forward to hearing from you, the time is now, the time IS Yummy.

Its always nice to finish these kind of things with a picture so here’s a picture of Pickle eating oranges, she likes oranges.

pickle and carrots

Joshy don’t go, we love you too much….

Josh petition


My company is built on the foundations of people, not of bricks & mortar.

A beautiful pub is great, as is a beautiful house, but without character, fun, spirit, it’s just a beautiful pub. People in Yummy come first, every time. The wrong people come & go, we spot them quite quickly now, if you’re not Yummy, you’re not in. But the Yummy one’s, they’re special. We’re a young company, I’m the oldest one (which is pretty depressing) but it means I can still act like a kid, which I have done for my entire life, so why stop now! We’re just working on our retention of people & the movement of characters through the pubs & it’s really interesting to see how the right ones have stayed with us & have moulded the company we are today.

Anthony, Jason & I have championed the importance of people from the very beginning of our journey in Yummy, trying to get the awards guys to realise that instead of ‘Best Smoking Area’ an award should be created for ‘Best team’, ‘Best pot wash’, ‘Best runner’. Thankfully this year more awards have appeared in the various categories, which is great, but there is still a very, very long way to go, a token award here & a token award there is great, but lets dedicate an entire awards to people, wouldn’t that be novel? With all the work Anthony’s doing in the perceptions group we really feel like we are getting somewhere, but it’s hard work, it’s hard to get people to realise what motivates & makes guys & gals that work in our trade tick & the obvious time span you have them for.

For us though, its spotting talent & trying to help it flourish. Our academy is in full swing, the team we have taken from New Horizons Youth Centre are just going from strength to strength & the Yummy apprenticeships are all enrolled & ready to learn.

One special talent we have is having a wobble. So in all things Yummy, we’ve started a petition to keep him!

A pair of weirdos

Josh ‘moonface’ Baxter is our current GM of the Gorringe after Ed departed some short months ago. Having worked for Ed (which is a challenging & rewarding experience) as assistant special one, Josh was ready, although rough around the edges to take the Gorringe forwards. Pubs are built on characters, that’s why we can make a site flourish when others have failed. A good GM in our opinion is not one that can crunch numbers, write great rotas, be great at cash handling, they are all important & vital to the role, but to Yummy it’s banter & fun, without it, the pubs just boring.

We get frustrated everyday with the important bits, but spend an hour in the company of our people & it’s quickly forgotten. Josh has a natural character that is made for this trade, I don’t expect him to be a GM forever, I expect him to be an owner operator, that’s where I would love to see him, but the nature of the trade is taking its toll. Our trade is a lifestyle choice, the hours are pretty horrific, the typical week doesn’t exist, but the upside that is so often overlooked is amazing.

We’ve been having a little jollification with the car washing, he’s actually been given an opportunity to sell a few motors on the lot, posh ones, but they’re still motors, four wheels, some doors, an engine & a steering wheel. He’s hitting that age in life where you do need to look seriously at the road ahead & ask yourself some questions, it’s the right thing to do, but the direction he wants to go in is not, in my humble & old grey (silver fox) haired opinion. So, we will help him. We will build a plan for his future development & effectively help him manage himself out of the role, but stay in the trade, he belongs in pubs, just maybe not actually in them all of the time. So on that note, Joshy, please don’t go, just yet.

If you want to sign the petition we will be posting it onto facebook, twitter, in all four pubs, websites, Utube & Trip Advisor shortly….

He's a man's man

So with people in mind & the upcoming opening of Cosy Kettle we decided a study tour was required, so we headed to the Restaurant show & then to London Cocktail Week.

Lucy HSBC stand

It was a real treat to see Lucy on the main artwork for HSBC global payments, a couple of great little suppliers found from Kent for the Grove & a look at what was & is happening. Information gathered we headed back to The Somers Town to have a catch up before heading out on our evening study tour.

Cosy Kettle planning

Cosy Kettle is looking great, the guys are eating through the work & the cellar that was, is beginning to look like a cocktail club now.

First stop: pick up wrist bands & head to Monkey Shoulders pop up kitchen in the Seven Dials.

Monkey Shoulder

I’ve been around a lot of brand experience stuff, seen how much it all costs & questioned nearly every time the true return on investment & if the funds could be spent better elsewhere, but with spirits it’s all about the kids (18+ of course!). It’s about what’s new, different, interesting & the First Drinks guys delivered. It was the best experience of the night (with the exception of Duck & Waffle, but they only pipped it because of the amazing views) we were incredibly well looked after, the knowledge they had & the fun it was to make your own old fashioned was great, we will most certainly be taking a lot from the experience.

Next up we headed to a few well know bars, however, the experience was poor. It was a Monday, granted, BUT it was the opening of London Cocktail Week, yet it seamed the various bars were totally disorganised. We headed to Soho, as you do…

la bodega negra

…only to find two clubs closed, two had run out of the specific spirit required to make the exclusive LCW cocktail & wouldn’t do an alternative option….(service) & one smelt terrible, really dirty, it was not pleasant. On the upside we did find La Bodega Negra, which we will visit again (as she didn’t let us have a look…that wouldn’t happen in Ssshh) so it wasn’t a totally wasted journey. And, on the upside it did show our team how much care we do take with our customers, our friendly approach compared to many others, despite making mistakes, we do still over deliver in Yummy.


There were two highlights of the evening. The first a swing club / social that was just totally bonkers it was really great fun & the experience delivered by Duck & Waffle, it is very impressive. Stunning cocktails when they arrived, amazing views & a brilliant design, I will defiantly go back & wait for sunrise next time rather than bailing out because we needed to work the next day…..Oh & we found the perfect Kettle for Cosy cocktails at one of the brand pop ups, they will look amazing…….

Ketle one


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