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