OPINION

Seeking positive feedback as a community stalwart

Sector attacked: can Zoe Eliasson meeting a community plea also help hospitality's standing?
Sector attacked: can Zoe Eliasson meeting a community plea also help hospitality's standing?

Related tags Pubco + head office The Boot at Sarratt Property Social responsibility

With our pub, the Boot at Sarratt (established 1729), being situated in the middle of our picturesque village, we had no choice but to agree to a Christmas plea from the Church and local primary school.

The request was to “create a small – or large – tableau of a scene from the nativity, which is visible to walkers coming to see the story, outside your establishment”.

The fact I don’t even have time to wash my hair didn’t cross my mind, this was a great opportunity to put our pub restaurant on the map.

The local vicar had the pleasure of announcing we would be hosting ‘The Innkeeper’ – great… a cardboard cut-out, a couple of pillow cases and a smiley face? No… surely we can do better than that…

Attacked by local communities

Within the brief were the words “we need you to think outside the box and tell visitors your part of the story, big and bold”. Instantly my creative mind went into overdrive, imagining neon signs and party vibes. But this being a church and primary school event, how far is too far?

Hospitality venues, and the Boot very much included, are constantly being attacked by their local communities. We are blamed for our gardens being too noisy with happy children playing in the summer, too busy with cars queuing to park in our private car park and accused of challenging social distancing rules during Covid and so on. I wanted to create a piece that stands out but doesn’t offend anybody. I want to bring a piece of 2023 into the most traditional story of all time.

In the depths of our attic, we found a cardboard cut-out of a rather stunning Star Trek character who travelled home with us from America back in the 1990s. We can’t possibly sacrifice ‘Seven Of Nine’ to the winter elements and dressing her in a sou’wester wouldn’t give her the street cred she truly deserves. So we’ll use her as a template, creating a life-sized wooden structure.

Nerves kicking in

We hit the charity shop for a sequin dress and killer heels, and make some enormous eye lashes so she really stands out. Will we offend if she holds a 0% alcoholic beer? Or should we play it safe with a bottle of one of your five a day soft drink?

The event is being held several weeks before Christmas so a printed neon sign with ‘Plenty of room at the Inn (but probably not on Christmas Eve)’ crosses my mind. Is this a cheap plug or will people see the fun side?

I’m hoping to follow through with our plan but the nerves are kicking in.

When will hospitality venues get positive feedback about their position in the community? Local residents will be the first to complain about the most trivial things but the last to comment positively about advances in bringing the village into the 21st​ century. Watch this space!

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