Embracing change and consistent quality service are values at the heart of the Rose and Crown in Thorpe, which won the Best Greene King Pub of the Year award at the Great British Pub Awards 2021.
Managing director of Barons Pub Company Limited Clive Price, who has owned the pub for 14 years, said dedication to standards was vital as “reputations are hard won, but easily lost in a single visit if [the experience] isn’t up to scratch”.
He said: “You're putting on a show every day, and it's got to be good 100% of the time.
“You get an opportunity to make people's day in a pub, whether it's on a very small level, like if someone that pops in for a pint of beer and a chat.
“It is more than just the food and drink that's on offer at a pub, it's the whole experience; it’s the camaraderie, the banter and everything that goes on in creating that environment.”
A customer honeypot
Price said the staff’s job was to ensure everyone felt welcomed and had “a jolly nice time”, building customer trust so “when they leave, they can’t wait to come back.”
He said: “Whether you're just having a catch up with a friend or a casual pint, there’s always something we can add to that occasion by doing it well, by being reliable and making our customers feel that they can come to us and we will look after them.
“There's nothing more embarrassing is there if you said to your friends ‘come along, I know this great pub down the road’, and then you get there is terrible; you feel really responsible.”
The Rose and Crown staff cater for a “melting pot” of customers from all walks of society, and of all different ages, said the general manager Sam Elias.
He said: “We've got a vegan menu and a non-gluten menu, which helps catered for different types of people, and [the chefs] have been able to adapt to customer's needs when they come in.
“We love to see in in our pubs those multi-generational occasions where everyone's happy from the four-year-old right up to the 94-year-old.
“[…] You can come for a simple occasion, but we will look after you equally well for your special celebrations and everything in between.”
What goes on behind the scenes
Price said there was an “awful lot more” to hospitality jobs than “pulling a few pints” and “taking a few plates of food to the table, such as keeping the pub organised, well-staffed, and well-resourced.
“There's a lot of moving parts in running a busy, busy pub, and that takes a lot of expertise,” said Price.
He continued: “You never feel like you're done with it. You’re always looking to keep improving, or go back and revisit something that you thought, ‘gosh, we were on top of that, now that’s slipped again; we need to bring that up.”
The pub adapted during lockdown to provide better service, through hosting customers outdoors for the first time in dining pods, a marquee, patio area, and a wooden structure that Elias built from scratch.
Price said looking forward, he hopes to improve the pub through investing in the garden area as the pub interior is fairly small.
Price added: “The core trade of the business will always be the focus, providing that great pub restaurant type offering.”