MY PUB

My Pub: the Gloucester Old Spot, Bristol

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

The Gloucester Old Spot: recently won Best Pub Food at the Bristol Good Food Awards
The Gloucester Old Spot: recently won Best Pub Food at the Bristol Good Food Awards

Related tags: Pub, Gloucester, Gloucestershire

Amy Devenish had been running the Gloucester Old Spot in Bristol for less than a year when she won the top accolade at the Bristol Good Food Awards 2015 for Best Pub Food. Michelle Perrett reports.

Pub facts:

Owner:​ Amy Devenish

Pub:​ The Gloucester Old Spot

Website:​ theoldspotbristol.co.uk

Tenure:​ 10 year Enterprise lease

Bestselling dish:​ Burgers which include the Old Spot Cheese Burger £8.95

Average spend per head:​ £15-20

Staff:​ 19 kitchen and front of house full - time and one part time

Wet/Dry:​ 50:50

Drinks:​ Fosters £3.85, Heineken £4, San Miguel £4.05

Food GP:​ 66%

Drink GP:​ 59%

Drink sales mix:​ Draught beer and cider make up 60% while wine is 20% of sales and the remainder is soft drinks and spirits.

How we got here

I have been building up to opening my own site since I was 18. I went to the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham to study Hospitality Management where I got a 1st​ and also won the best student of the year 2007. During my placement year in Bristol I worked at the Glass Boat Company where I met Alex Reilley, who now runs Loungers.

I ended up taking on on a management role with Loungers opening the site in Bath and a number of others.  I went on to become an operations manager for about a year but I didn’t particularly like it. It was very different to managing a site, as I like the personal side of things with the customer interaction.

I left Loungers to work for Boston Tea Party, which is a small West Country café chain, opening a new site for them in Bristol. I worked there for about a year then thought I need to do something for myself.  I was close to turning 30 and thought if I don’t do it now I never will.

How we turned the business around?

I was looking for the right site for about a year when the pub, which was then called The Kellaway, became available.  I knew the area and it ticked so many boxes as there are a lot of chimney pots and not a lot of places to go in the area.

There was massive potential and the locals had been crying out for this place to do well. It had changed hands eight times in six years and it was failing.

I was a bit wary going with a pubco because of the bad reputation they have had but Enterprise have been wonderful and pumped in £150,000. We put the best part of £85,000 in, as it was a shell, so we had to spend a lot of money on items such as kitchen equipment.

But I bargained with Enterprise on the rent and pushed them quite hard. I also had to do a full business plan which was pretty comprehensive.

Standing out from the crowd

When the pub opened it became completely family-friendly.  Kids had been barred at one point, which is ridiculous.

The pub needed to appeal to everybody – families, older clientele and people on business meetings.

We decided to open the pub for breakfasts at 9am every day to push food and the coffee as there is doesn’t seem to be anywhere in Bristol that you can get a decent sit-down breakfast.

It just took off when the doors opened. People love the food it’s not overpriced, as we want repeat business. We have people that come in for breakfast and then they come in for a meal in the evening.

It is not unusual that people eat here two, three or four times a week because it is affordable. I am hot on service and think to a certain extent it is more important than the food and drink offering. The previous tenants were doing roughly £1,500 a week and the pub does that on a quiet Monday now.

HarveyOldspot11_X136102Bar3

Smart marketing

We tried to create a buzz before we opened the doors.  We got in contact with the Evening Post, sent out a press release and just tried to build things up, especially on social media.

A lot of the business growth has been word of mouth and I have only started advertising over the last few months.

Staff

When I was at Loungers I did a lot of new openings and training with the staff. When I was opening this pub an advert was placed on Gumtree. I interviewed people but obviously couldn’t give them a trial shift, as the pub wasn’t open. But the team I picked have been so amazing. 

I was doing a bit of waitressing at Giraffe while waiting for the pub to open and the assistant manager was brilliant.  I said ‘do you want to come and work for me?’ and she is now my deputy.

Bar talk

I buy all beer, cider and ale through Enterprise as the pub is tied but the selection is really good. The pub stocks Fosters, Heineken, San Miguel, Thatchers Gold and Symonds.

It also has Guinness and four ales on tap. It is quite a strong real ale area and CAMRA members often come in to drink. We have three ales permanently on the bar - Butcombe Bitter, Ringwood Boondoggle and Timothy Taylors’ Landlord, which is flying.

There is one ale is on rotation every week and are just working the way through the Enterprise list.  I decided to pay a certain amount of money to opt out of being tied for wine, soft drinks and spirits. I found a lot more suppliers that are a lot cheaper and have a lot more variety than Enterprise can offer.

Menu philosophy:

It is just simple food done well. I helped design the menu and I have a chef who came from a fine dining background. The simple food is done is such a good way it is almost unexpected. The Black Bream is what the judges for ate for the Bristol Good Food Awards and that is of a fine dining standard that blows people away. You just wouldn’t expect it in a pub in the suburbs of Bristol. It is really important for us keep the prices down but offer really decent pub grub.

We try and go as local as possible. We use a local butcher that has got a really good reputation and use a lot of local suppliers.

Sample dishes:

Pan Fried Fillet of Black Bream (£11.25) with crushed new potatoes, spring greens, grilled courgette ribbons and a warm gazpacho sauce

Guest Gloucester Old Spot Sausages (£9.95) served with creamy mash, spring greens and a red onion jus

The Old Spot Cheese Burger (£8.95) homemade beef burger topped with mature cheddar in a toasted seeded bun with tomatoes, picked cucumber, baby gem, red onion marmalade and a side of seasonal coleslaw

Business Advice:

Work hard, you have got to have a passion and you have got to be dedicated. It is complete lifestyle and if you are not ready for it and you really don’t know what you are doing you will fail.

The Future:

We need to get the kitchen extended and fit for purpose. It is a bit small like a shoebox so we have got a planning application in to triple the size. We haven’t got the space to do Sunday roast dinners at the moment but we will when the kitchen extension is done. There are a lot of events I would like to do in the pub such as live music but I have been holding back because of the kitchen extension.

It is going to get to a point where things are going to level out a bit and then I will look at pub number two. But that won’t be for at least 18 months. What we have got here is a brand and we can do it somewhere else.

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