Recently we’ve been privileged to help two popular Beverley eateries be able to welcome customers through their doors again: Rodizio restaurant Chamas, and The Tiger Inn pub.
We’ve written extensively about some of the steps all organisations can take to get back in business, and have also taken a particular look at the HORECA (food, retail and leisure) sector in another recent blog. We’re now delighted to be able to share some direct experience from two of our highly valued clients, in the hope it inspires others like them.
Here, in the second of a series of blogs exploring best practice case stories, we talk to The Tiger Inn’s landlord Allen Slinger.
Ready to reopen
For Allen, opening again was also all about retaining the confidence of a loyal customer base. He’s established an impressive reputation for ‘the Tiger’ as a grassroots community pub since taking over as manager of the Punch Taverns-owned venue in Lairgate four years ago.
He’s called on his impressive 20 years of experience in the pub industry to make the Tiger the success it is today. The venue is synonymous with the best of freshly cooked ‘pub grub’, and serves quality ales, good wine and a growing spirits selection. It is also known for being dog-friendly and has become something of a community hub for Beverley folk, with events, groups and entertainments going on throughout the week.
Of course, that has all been hit by the unprecedented circumstances of the past four months, but Allen was very keen to ‘get back on the horse’ in the best way possible, and overcome this blip in operations.
He said: “Opening again after four months was a big milestone, of course.”
So, what measures has he taken to make that possible?
“We’ve erected a marquee outside in our beer garden area so that people can keep dry while queuing, and maintain a safe distance from each other,” he said.
“We’ve also made the most of our outside space to accommodate more people, as we’ve lost a bit of space inside by spreading out tables.
“We’ve got a number of screens up in parts of the bar and hand sanitiser stations everywhere. We’re maintaining a two metres-plus distance between everyone where possible, and a minimum of one metre-plus.
“We’re also limiting the number of people using our washrooms at any one time as well, via a traffic light system on the toilet doors. We’ve got red and green cards on there and are just asking customers to put the red one in place as they go in, and then put the green one back when they come out again.
“Then, we’re offering table service only for food and drinks and we’ve introduced a one-way system for getting around the pub.”
Allen explained that other protective steps he and his team have taken are a new pre-booking system via their website and Facebook page, where customers need to enter their contact details in case the need for tracing arises, and visors for his serving team to wear if customers request it.
He said Elliott’s have been a fantastic help to them in getting this right.
“We’ve worked with Elliott’s for some years now and so we already had robust hygiene measures in place, but they’ve helped us to take those up a notch in order to comply with the extra-stringent COVID-secure requirements,” added Allen.
“Janette and her team were just brilliant in advising us on things like the types of sanitisers we need to be using, signage options and things like that. Janette came up with ideas we hadn’t even thought of and was really thorough as always.
“We had a risk assessment document supplied by our owners Punch Taverns to start from, and then Janette helped us troubleshoot that, identify any specific issues we had and work out a bespoke plan that would work for this venue.”
And all of this has enabled Allen and his team to properly enjoy the event of re-opening, without nagging doubts that something could go wrong.
“Knowing that we have all the necessary procedures and equipment in place means our staff are absolutely clear what everyone’s supposed to be doing and what information we need to record to be in keeping with COSHH safe working standards, and therefore there’s no risk of things going wrong.”
Not a moment too soon
Allen explained: “Having been closed for so long, things were obviously getting a bit tight and therefore it was important we made a success of re-opening. We had a real sense of nervous excitement about starting up again and, so far, it’s panning out really well. We’ve had plenty of customers through the door and they’ve also been really supportive in asking what we need them to do to help us all make this work.”
Although it’s early days, the Tiger has been busy since re-opening and Allen is feeling optimistic about what the future holds. What advice does he have for other catering businesses, from his experience? “I’d say stick to your guns and do what’s right for you. You might visit other places and see that they’re doing various things, but you need to do what’s right for you and your venue, and what you believe in.
“Fundamentally, people are going to respond to places that are clean, safe and secure, and that needs to be your guiding principle.”
At the same time, it’s about being brave. He added: “Not everyone will like everything you’ve decided to do and some people will view certain things as inconvenient, but it’s about being positive and confident about enforcing your rules, among both your staff and customers, for the good of your business and everyone involved in it.”
And Allen had amazing things to say about his experience of working with us.
“Other hygiene supply companies source you the products and leave you to it but that’s not the case with Elliott’s. What you get is full, end-to-end support and a hygiene strategy matched to your business’s needs.
“For example, the team recommended that we have colour coded equipment for designated areas of the pub to avoid cross contamination, and organised our cleaning schedules and reporting to ensure that we’re fully compliant. All our people are clear what’s required of them and we can demonstrate our good practice to anyone who wants to see it.
“Their attention to detail is second-to-none and that gives us the kind of absolute confidence which is worth its weight in gold, and the breathing space to get on with doing what we do best, and run our business.”
Janette Elliott said: “Working with Allen has been an absolute pleasure. Our ability to access a huge range of products is a real asset for HORECA clients like this, but I think the real key at the moment is the way our team are throwing themselves into supporting businesses to achieve their goals in the safest way possible under the COVID-secure guidelines.”
If this blog has got you thinking and you could do with some no-obligation, expert advice on what’s going to work best for you and your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing or calling us on 01482 327580.