Leicestershire licensee celebrates 35 years behind the same bar

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Brian Priest: Though initially reluctant, Priest has had a career in the pub trade spanning over four decades, with 35 of those spent at the Chequers
Brian Priest: Though initially reluctant, Priest has had a career in the pub trade spanning over four decades, with 35 of those spent at the Chequers

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The most enjoyable part of running a pub is always being around and meeting new people and the key to success is always making sure you offer something different, according to one Leicestershire licensee.

Operator of the Chequers, Brian Priest, has today (7 January) celebrated 35 years behind the bar at the pub in Swinford, Leicestershire.

Priest said: “You've always got somebody to talk to, or to listen to, or something going on.

“You see life from various different angles; you see marriages, deaths, you see all sorts, it offers a varied outlook on life.”

Apart from hospitality Priest’s other love is football, having supported Leicester City for more than 50 years, and supporting the football club gave him what he recalls as his most memorable moment in the trade.

In 2016 Priest joked if his beloved football team won the Premier League, he would paint the exterior of the Chequers blue and white, and he kept his word after they won, which resulted in BT Sport gifting the licensee a bronze statue of himself for being ‘Licensee of the Month’.

Catering for everybody 

Priest said: “We got a lot of the villagers out on a Saturday morning, and we all painted the front of the pub blue and white.

“Sky Sports News got involved, BT Sport, local press and we saw over 1m hits on the internet. My notoriety went before me and now we're still known for it, somebody’s just been in this morning (6 January) and took a photograph of the statue BT Sport did of me.”

Over the past 35 years at the Chequers, Priest has had to roll with a lot of changes, but the biggest change he has noticed, is the amount of alcohol people consume.

For this reason, he deemed it imperative to go with the changes and always adapt to ensure the pub offers something for everyone, which is why at the Chequers, customers can partake in various activities such as darts or skittles.

Priest said: “We show sports on the TV, we've got various game teams, from ladies skittle teams to men's skittles teams, a dance team, a domino team and a football team.

“You've got to cater for everybody that gets us through the winter such as having those games teams and then in the summer, we've got a large garden with a children's play area.”

“People don't drink the quantities they used to, mostly because social habits have changed and the cost to eat out, people's drinking habits have changed drastically over the years, and they've changed even more this last two years.

No regrets 

“You've got to offer something special, there's only a limited number of people that want to come out and drink every night of the week or two or three nights a week. There's social drinking but to get people out you've got to have something special, like games teams, football teams or special days or events.”

Despite initially not wanting to work in the pub trade but having to take over his father’s pub, the Shakespeare pub in Rugby, Warwickshire, when he was 21, Priest has now been in the pub trade for over four decades in total and would not change a thing.

Priest added: “I don't regret it at all, but I would say, if you want to go into the pub trade, wait until middle age, get a life first and enjoy yourself first.

“But it's as hard as you want to make it really and enjoying it is the main thing, I don’t know what I’d do if I retired. I am 67, I’ve got at least until 70, as long as I’ve got the health to do it, I'll keep doing it.”

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