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.

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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.


Its all about the kids….

“Proud”

Its a simple word, but one that means everything to us. If you were to sum up Yummy in just that one word, proud would be it, 24.04.2014. Tomorrow I will be saying goodbye (a short goodbye) to a young lady who has made us more proud to be Yummy than she could ever know & most of our team sort of see, but often wonder, “how”.

Jess is leaving us.

Ash is devastated, so is everyone in Yummy (well apart from Chris, he’s not that bothered, he does’t know who she is, hasn’t shook her hand yet).

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It seams of late that is all I have been writing about – people leaving, but in reality its just the natural position in our lifetime that we find ourselves in. Ally left. He came back (for a few weeks) & is still going (& will still be coming back). Jess is off, Matt is off, two complete idiots (not them) entered my business & left, very quickly, they will be forgotten, very quickly, Jess, Matt & Ally will always be remembered & will always be welcomed back. Life is to be lived, I have always believed that & I will never stand in the way of any man or woman for that to happen, especially the woman.

As for the woman, she has allowed me to sculpt my business for many future generations to come, because I firmly believe that if young Jessica Shields had not been in my business we would never have embarked on the perceptions group, we would never have taken kids off the streets & we would be poorer for it.

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She will be missed, but the stories of her future adventures will be sure to entertain us. In parting (for just a very short period of time) I would like to thank her from the bottom of my heart for her dedication, commitment, belief & true respect for us, even if it did cost me an iPhone or two. She is part of Yummy & always will be.

As for us, well we’ll be alright.

New blood is in Yummy to help us get over our loss. We have a shiny new award to polish daily (when we ever actually get to see it), we have a lot to be getting on with & we have five new piggies, who grunt, squeal & talk, they really do talk…

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As for the kids, well, I’m going to up the anti on that a bit now. Anthony became vice chairman of the Perceptions Group to make a difference, to cut through the time wasting bull s@*t that we hate about bureaucracy in our industry & just get things done. We’ve spent years talking, so it would seam have plenty of people. Action in my book speaks louder than words. So I’m going to build (strengthen) a company on the foundations of kids. Kids that have been given little, just looking for a break. I’m going to make kids head chefs, team leaders, GM’s & I’m going to stick two fingers up to everyone that says I’m an idiot for doing so, there have been a few already.

Its going to be a struggle, we know that. They’re going to let us down, in more ways than one, but I think we can make it work, I’m going to find the rough diamonds & my team are going to polish them. Jess has taught us that.

So, for a young lady that is off to explore a little more that the big wide World has to offer a ‘kid’, from the three of us, thank you.

A quote that a winner when searching “Goodbye, but not goodbye in Google”…

Why can’t we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn’t work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos. ~Charles M. Schulz

Fancy being Yummy? Come & say hello.


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).

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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).

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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.

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

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…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.

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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.

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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…

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…Oh & so did Tara…

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…& Hugh….

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….& Ryan….

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 …..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….

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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…..

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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…..

wedding-pic_www.thegroveferry.co.uk

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.

thegroveferrykent_thegrovebuilding

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.

Goats-in-shed_www.thegroveferry.co.uk

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….

Garage-destroyed-2014_www.thewiremill.co.uk

Tree-fallen-2014_www.thewiremill.co.uk

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.


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