Davies and finance director David Nathan were among a group of seven from the pubco, which operates nine sites under its Honeycomb Houses managed division, rewarded staff and welcomed new general manager Theo Benson at the Lion in Wendlebury, near Bicester, Oxfordshire, by pouring pints for regulars while the permanent team partied.
The regular team enjoyed an all-expenses-paid night out on Honeycomb Houses before returning to the pub for a nightcap.
CEO Davies explained: “We would definitely want to do it again, though realistically getting all the head office team in one place is quite a challenge. So I think we’re probably looking at next year before we do it again.
“Since we launched the Honeycomb Houses branding nearly two years ago, we’ve worked really hard to embed the core values of ‘our house, your home’ to our team members across the business.
“Spending an evening behind the bar was a great way to see at first-hand how easy it is to maintain those values in a busy pub, when you might be short of team members or dealing with food or drink supply issues.
“All of us who did a shift at the Lion have come away with huge respect for our colleagues in the pubs and a better understanding of how they live the Honeycomb Houses values.”
What makes ‘family’ tick
GM Benson said it was great to leave the pub for an evening and enjoy time together as a whole team, and to find out what makes his new ‘family’ tick, such as their favourite drinks and the music they love.
“The team have had a pretty tough few months as, like so many pubs and restaurants, the Lion has faced challenges around recruitment and the cost of living,” he added. “So to have their hard work recognised and rewarded by the Honeycomb Houses head office was a real boost to team morale.”
Davies said: “It is a while since I have worked a full shift in a pub but not only did I thoroughly enjoy myself, it reminded me of exactly what our teams do week in, week out.
“It is hard work but great fun and the feeling of camaraderie with the team is fantastic. It was good to prove to the Lion team and ourselves that we can still do it. We even managed to get some good online feedback to bolster The Lion’s online reputation.”
He added the pubco offers plenty of benefits to its staff such as 50% off food and drink for team members and up to three guests in any Honeycomb Houses pub, and 50% off accommodation.
Mental health issues work
It also has a team benefit portal with many “lifestyle discounts” and monthly recognition and reward programmes.
Additionally, for team members at assistant manager level and above, including chefs, there’s a bonus scheme.
The Lion, which is big on food and has 13 bedrooms, is also active in the community, in particular through its fundraising for Bicester charity Nais House, which supports young people with mental health issues.
Brakspear’s managed pub division was established in 2013, yards from the site of the original Brakspear brewery founded in 1711 and next to the company’s current head office. In November 2021, Brakspear rebranded its managed estate as Honeycomb Houses.
The division now has 10 pubs, five of them located in the Cotswolds, as well as Henley-on-Thames, Abingdon, Bicester, Marlow and The Ghyll Manor in West Sussex, acquired in 2022 and currently closed.