Secrets behind success at CAMRA's Pub of the Year

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Secrets behind success: the MA spoke to operator George Greenway after the Tamworth Tap (pictured) was named CAMRA POTY
Secrets behind success: the MA spoke to operator George Greenway after the Tamworth Tap (pictured) was named CAMRA POTY

Related tags Staffordshire Camra Real ale

Owner of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Pub of the Year (POTY), George Greenway, has shared the secrets to his success at The Tamworth Tap with The Morning Advertiser (MA).

Licensees George and Louise Greenway began brewing at the Staffordshire site in 2017 and subsequently opened the pub six years ago.

Since then, the husband-and-wife team has expanded the venue to include an outdoor kitchen, bar, and on-site shop as well as the 3bbl micro-brewery and have been awarded the Pub of the Year accolade two years in a row.

“It’s surreal. We were over the moon first time, but two years running is just beyond expectations”, Greenway said regarding the win earlier this year.

The operator added the Tap’s success was down to a “combination of things”, including as “Incredible staff” and the support it receives from the local community.  

He said: “[The staff] are the reason a lot of people come in; for their smiling face, professionalism, their energy, expertise, knowledge and attention to detail. They never stop, they always give 110%.

Stringent monitoring 

“That’s the first thing a customer wants to see when they walk in, a smiling face and someone with beer knowledge.”

Sitting unassumingly in the middle of Tamworth’s Market Street, the 16th​ century pub boasts Tudor features and a historic courtyard terrace, which won the Best Pub Garden category at the 2022 Great British Pub Awards.

The Tap also offers views of Tamworth Castle as well as eight hand pulls, usually featuring at least one Tamworth ale, a variety of snacks, BBQ food in the summer, plus a wide range of ciders, gins, wines and bottled beers.

In addition, the venue regularly hosts themed events, including ‘paint and sip sessions’, film screenings and live music.

“Stringent monitoring” and the quality of real ale, something the Tap specialises in, was something Greenway was particularly proud of.

Moreover, the operator stated real ale was the future of the great British pub in the wake of pub closures and more venues turning to food-led operations.

"We’re aiming to deliver the overall package"

He continued: “It’s all about the quality of real ale and being able to demonstrate you area able to dispense and keep a good pint”.

However, despite its success, the brewpub has not been immune to the ongoing labour issues and cost pressures currently faced by the sector.

Greenway explained staff availability was one of the biggest challenges he has found with running the pub at the moment, as well as recouping losses caused by the energy crisis.  

“[Staff availability] is my only concern on the horizon. We've got over the energy crisis, that seems to be returning to normal, although we took a £50,000 hit on our bottom line, which is quite horrendous.

“That money could have been reinvested into the business or I could have been to basically pay myself a wage”, he added.

Moreover, these issues make finding the right people to represent the pub ahead of its busy summer season, when the Tap’s garden area gets “extremely popular”, crucial to the pub’s operation.

To tackle staffing concerns, Greenway explained he has had to become “more proactive” when taking people on, hiring staff based on recommendations and providing on the job training.

Learning together 

“Around this time of year, we start looking to take people on because they need to get up to speed and be fully conversed with the whole operation [and their beer knowledge] before the summer rush.

“We have a very open forum on products and what to do in certain situations. We've all learned together really over the past six years.

“They need to be getting to grips with how we do things; we wouldn't let anybody loose on our customers unless we were 100% confident they were going to represent us in the right way.”

Consistency is key for Greenway, who dedicates himself to maintaining the venue as well as serving the community, ensuring he is on site most days.  

The operator and brewer can often be found doing an array of tasks to keep those standards up, from brewing to carpentry and woodwork to cleaning.

Though the “constant tweaking to improve the site was another key reason Greenway said contributed to winning Pub of the Year twice.  

He said: “I'm not afraid of some hard work, I'll always do the jobs [that need doing]. We’re aiming to deliver the overall package rather than just specialising in one area. and be excellent in as many areas as we can without diluting any one of those components.”

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