Facts ’n’ stats
Name: Tap & Run
Address: Main Road, Upper Broughton, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, LE14 3BG
Operators: Harry and Avril Gurney, Stuart Broad, Lee Cash
Pub model: Freehold
Wet:dry split: 35:65
Year opened: September 2018
The Tap & Run is a premium gastropub, located halfway between Nottingham and Melton Mowbray so it’s not far from Trent Bridge, where obviously Broady (Stuart Broad) and I plied our trade.
We acquired it in 2018 and it had been closed for a couple of years – it’s quite an iconic venue.
It underwent quite a significant refurbishment and opened in September 2018. It’s a nice, big airy gastropub with some subtle nods to cricket but we’ve gone slightly less subtle with this most recent refurbishment after the fire.
Before I used to be quite reluctant to flog the cricket thing too much because I didn’t want it to feel tacky. I was just really conscious that I wanted all of our pubs to be good pubs in their own right and not rely on the cricket links with myself and more importantly, Broady, so we were really subtle with it before.
There were touches, such as hidden bails around the pub, but I’ve since decided we can make a bit more of the cricket thing but in a classy way. For example, in the pub section we’ve got a load of old Vanity Fair pictures of old cricketers and you could have these in any pub.
We also started to incorporate other things into our branding such as a beer font in the style of a cricket scoreboard.
We’ve also got assets such as thank you cards that go out with every bill with a photo of me and Broady on so it’s not in your face but people are more aware of the brand we are trying to build, hopefully.
We’ve got a Garden Room, which is, essentially, a conservatory, off the side of the building, and two terraces off the back that are the upper and lower terrace and some garden space with furniture – and next to a beautiful 500-year-old church.
The idea for the company came in 2016 when my local at the time became available and I had the mad idea I was going to take it on and put a manager in there.
I was still cricketing at the time and so I rang a friend of mine, Dan Cramp, who was running the Larwood & Voce, at Trent Bridge, really successfully, to tell me what he thought and he said “I love it. I think it could work. If you want me, I’m in”.
Dan said let’s get Broady involved so we did. Since then we’ve parted company with Dan and brought Lee Cash (former Peach Pubs boss) in.
So Broady is an investor and sits on the board and is very engaged but naturally not involved on a day-to-day basis.
I have grown into an MD role since I officially retired from cricket in early 2021 and the purpose of bringing Lee in is a) he sits on the board and advises all of us and helps with the business but his most important role is to coach me really to be a good pub co leader and to help us grow the business.
In the past year, my wife Avril has become increasingly involved in the business and is now totally in charge of all of the property side of things, such as the refurb, the compliance, adding that sparkle, the uniform, the menu, those brand assets that sit in the venues so she’s very involved now and we run it together.
We are looking for large villages or suburbs or maybe market towns – ideally somewhere with a cricketing affinity but that’s not that’s not a deal breaker.
We look for a high density of ABC1 people, good schools, where the average house price is above £250,000 with a population of at least 30,000 people within a 1km radius.
Our customers avatar would be probably someone in their 50s or 60s with older teenage or grown-up kids, probably white collar, business owner or ex-business owner or maybe an accountant or a lawyer, or a doctor or whatever.
We position ourselves as a premium product and our guest is quite an aspirational individual.
With that we try not to make the service or atmosphere stuffy at all, so it’s sort of a casual dining feel but without the silver service and I want our team to be really friendly and have some banter with the guests.
We’re 60% to 65% dry-led and a lot of the wet is served at the table as well – there’s not a huge bar.
The food is obviously very important. One of the things that we’ve done post-fire is almost doubled the size of the kitchen and improved the layout and moved the pot wash area and the walk-in fridge out of the kitchen. We’ve invested quite heavily in that.
That’s enabling us to serve more guests. In our second Sunday since we reopened, we capped it at 250 roasts and pre-fire that would have been big numbers for us.
The feedback from the general manager and the head chef was there’s a lot more in it in capacity terms and we can really up that yield on our booking software from next Sunday onwards. That’s exciting if we can get it doing 330 to 400 roasts that will become the heartbeat of the business of a Sunday.
We have six full-time chefs plus an executive chef then there’s kitchen porters and then front of house.
We have a general manager and have two assistant managers and one supervisor – although we’ve run it in the past with one assistant manager and two supervisors but, essentially, there’s four in those management roles.
The front of house team is of varying ages, backgrounds and locations from 16/17-year-olds who live in the village whose families come in and use the pub.
And there’s come from a bit further afield and work full-time for us on an hourly contract and want to have a serious career in hospitality. So, on a Sunday, we might have between 10 and 15 people front of house.
What’s on the menu?
Chicken & tarragon bon bons, truffle aioli – £8.95
Burrata, heritage tomatoes, pesto, croutons (v) – £9.50
Garlic & parsley king prawns (shell on), grilled sourdough (gf) – £13.95
Free-range flat iron chicken, chimichurri, skin on fries – £17.95
Herb-crusted lamb cushion steak (served pink), fondant potato, summer greens, redcurrant lamb jus – £26.95
Moving Mountains burger, red slaw, avocado, vegan cheese, skin on fries (vg) – £15.95
Vegan chocolate brownie, pecans, vanilla ice cream (vg) – £8.50
Vanilla cheesecake, salted caramel popcorn (gf) – £8.50
Selection of British cheeses, truffle honey, crackers – £9.95
All example dishes from a la carte and dessert menus
Heineken is our supplier. We only have two lagers on these days. This particular pub does not have a huge bar trade.
We have Beavertown Neck Oil, which although expensive, is a fantastic product – it tastes great, the branding’s great and the guests love it.
We’ve just moved to Inch’s cider from Orchard Thieves and I really like the branding of it.
Obviously, we serve Guinness and then we got a wine list of about nine or 10 reds, nine or 10 whites and three rosés.
We’ve got a Cloudy Bay in the red and white. We’ve got Whispering Angel and we’ve got nice Chablis on. The house wines are £21/£22 a bottle so we try to offer a little bit of something for everyone but give people who want to spend a little bit more the opportunity to do so.
And then there’s a range of gins and Fever-Tree tonics and a few nice cocktails, which are popular as well.
We’ll always have steak, pies, burgers, fish and chips on the menu because they are the best-sellers that we take great pride in.
When we are recruiting chefs, anyone that turns their nose up at those kind of dishes is a big red flag because, ultimately, we are a gastropub and that is what people want.
In the past, we’ve had head chefs we’ve probably given quite a lot of leeway too and we’ve ended up with blobs, smears and foams on the plate and we don’t believe that’s appropriate in a gastropub.
We have those core dishes that are beautifully cooked, served on lovely crockery and are ethically sourced so we’ll only have free-range chicken and pork, etc.
In addition to that, you’ve got your more premium options such as duck breast or a lamb cushion steak or prawns, scallops – that kind of thing. It’s a little bit like the wine list in that we are ready to cater for those who want to have something a little bit different.
My wife is heavily involved in the food side of things and she is most likely to choose where we go out for dinner when we’re going so it’s good for her to have some items on there that are the kind of things that she would want to order when we would go out. That’s where your slightly more refined dishes and they hopefully make you stand out a little bit.
We’ve had weddings in the past here but I don’t like closing the pub to normal guests, particularly the locals. You end up with noise pollution, you end up with sometimes quite high maintenance clients and actually you have to charge an absolute fortune to justify closing that pub on, say, a Saturday.
I just don’t see the point in the in the stress of running and hosting a wedding and doing something that, operationally, we aren’t set up to do at the Tap & Run. Sending out 100 plates of food at once is quite a unique skill set and we don’t have those things.
For other events, yes, we’ll probably do something in the garden but there’s nothing on the horizon but I wouldn’t rule it out.
During Covid, we had a market in the car park every Saturday morning and we sold coffees and sausage rolls and we had maybe six other stalls, such as a local cheese company, a local butcher, a pie company and groceries business, which all became really popular and were probably a large part of the reason why business was immediately so strong when we reopened after Covid.
The official business plan that we currently have is [to increase the number of pubs we own from two to] five by the end of 2026.
And that’d be one next year, one in 2025 and one in 2026 so to add to the Tap & Run and the Griffin would take us to five.
We wouldn’t take on a pub that we weren’t confident would not be doing more than £30,000 a week. When you’ve got a growing central team, you’ve got a bit of debt to service and you want to also finance some growth, anything less than £30,000 a week in gross sales doesn’t quite stack up – so we are looking for big-ish gastropubs.
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