Toasting our gastropubs

By Mike Berry

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags ?eské bud?jovice Tom kerridge

'Customer service makes all the difference', says Mike Berry
'Customer service makes all the difference', says Mike Berry
Think what you like about the term ‘gastropub’, it provides an instantly recognisable phrase to the public about what they should expect when stepping into such a pub.

Some will point out that it has become a catch-all, over-used word that provokes debate and loathing in equal measure from those in the trade, but until something new is coined, it’s here to stay.

This week the Publican’s Morning Advertiser celebrated the best the gastropub market has to offer. These pubs offer everything from rearing their own pigs, brewing their own beers and growing their own vegetables to smoking their own meats, selling their own produce and providing luxury accommodation. There is even one pub that prints its own newspaper.

The Budweiser Budvar Top 50 Gastropub Awards 2012 brings you the definitive list of the best of their kind in Britain. More than 2,000 votes were cast in a poll of hundreds of industry experts including top chefs, food writers, pubco chiefs, pub-guide editors and top suppliers.

Congratulations go to the Hand & Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and licensees Tom and Beth Kerridge for being this year’s winner.

The runner-up last year, the pub scooped the top award to crown what has been an incredible few months. In October, the Hand & Flowers was awarded its second Michelin star — the first pub ever to achieve two.

It has come a long way from when the couple took the pub on in March 2005 when it was taking just £500 a week and the “kitchen” was limited to four microwaves and two fryers!

So what is its recipe for success? Aside from Tom Kerridge’s obvious huge talent as a chef, the thing that struck me the most was the appetite for hard work and consistency of operation.

The whole team obviously cares greatly that it provides the same high standards and exceptional customer experience, time after time.

Sounds simple when written down, but achieving it day in, day out is a whole different story. In fact, success brings a new set of challenges, with people’s expectations raised even higher than previously.

The majority of those in our Top 50 say, simply, “keeping people happy” is what drives their pub’s success. Yes, they are innovative in terms of what they offer (see the examples above), but delivering that consistency of customer experience is what gives them competitive advantage.

It’s simple advice that can be taken on board, no matter the size of your operation.

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