In Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, lies a gem of a pub that delivers an exceptional experience: The Unicorn Inn. Run by devoted licensee Tracey Bowen, her journey at The Unicorn Inn started as a customer before becoming a licensee – “It’s been a long-term love affair with this pub for me”, says Tracey. Her goal was to create a welcoming, community-oriented pub that's environmentally friendly, and she’s achieved just that by working with Star Pubs & Bars.
“I wanted the country pub feel in the city centre”, comments Tracey. Tracey has certainly achieved that - the cosy atmosphere and thoughtful service cater to the needs of the local community. Tracey's passion shines through in her commitment to bringing people together and sustaining the business responsibly. Her care and personal touch make The Unicorn Inn a beloved venue packed with character.
Discover how Tracey has created a city centre oasis and a successful pub business that is committed to both her community and the environment.
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Sustainability initiatives can elevate your venue
Almost half (48%) of Gen Z and millennials would be more inclined to visit a pub if it was “eco-friendly” and took part in sustainable initiatives1, so there are clear business benefits for operators to make their venue more sustainable.
The Unicorn Inn is already one step ahead of many pubs and stands out for its impressive sustainability credentials, which are a testament to Tracey's commitment to running an eco-friendly pub: “I want to make it as environmentally friendly as possible” she says. From installing water-saving HEINEKEN SmartDispense® taps to switching all lighting throughout the property to energy-efficient LED bulbs, Tracey has examined her entire business for green upgrades. She considers even the smallest details, like providing reusable ramekins instead of single-use condiment packets.
The Unicorn Inn is also a proud member of The Green Pub Guide powered by SmartDispense®, a compilation of 73 venues across the country that are striving to create a more sustainable offering and embrace more environmentally responsible practices. Tracey comments: "My aim was to make the pub as environmentally friendly as possible", and this really does show. Even the beautiful hanging baskets, filled with local flowers grown by Tracey’s mother, create a gorgeous focal point while benefiting pollinators.
As The Unicorn Inn demonstrates, sustainability initiatives don't mean sacrificing a quality pub experience. Changes like improved lighting create an even more inviting ambience and customers are increasingly interested in a pub’s environmental impact. For example, The Unicorn Inn’s customers consistently praise its pints, calling them “the best in town”. These are in fact, poured to perfection thanks to SmartDispense®, which offers free staff training on pouring the perfect pint.
With simple yet impactful steps, pubs can implement greener practices. By embracing sustainability, Tracey showcases that green values and great hospitality go hand-in-hand with a new generation of eco-conscious pubs. At a time when publicans are under pressure to reduce both their running costs and carbon footprint, these simple, no or low-cost changes can make a big difference, with many reinvesting savings into bigger initiatives.
Attention to detail brings a great experience
As well as being a more sustainable venue, attention to detail is what can make a great pub. Tracey understands that it is the little touches, that keep her customers coming back to The Unicorn Inn. "My goal for the pub when I took it on was to make a warm, friendly, safe venue where everyone could come together," Tracey explains.
Tracey has made her mark on her pub, by listening to her customer needs and caters brilliantly to the local theatre crowd by providing thoughtful services that enhance their night out. “The pub‘s well known for theatre drinks” comments Tracey, and as a theatre fan herself, she knows customers appreciate the ability to pre-order interval drinks to have them ready and waiting when they visit the bar between acts.
"I understand what customers are looking for when they factor in a quick visit to the pub around their theatre trip. Tiny details like giving a friendly reminder before the second half begins makes all the difference.” By tailoring the pub experience to serve the needs of theatregoers, Tracey creates an invaluable service.
Her attention to these small yet meaningful details is what regulars have come to expect and appreciate from The Unicorn Inn. It's the extra care and personal touch that keep customers coming back. Tracey recognises and delivers what matters most—those special extras that turn a standard pub visit into something truly memorable.
Tracey's journey with Star Pubs & Bars
Tracey's journey from pub cleaner to licensee of The Unicorn Inn is a testament to her passion and perseverance. She steadily worked her way through roles, learning all aspects of the business. “Back in 1999, I came to the pub as a customer and in 2000, I started cleaning here before going on to work on the bar and ended up being the bar manager” Tracey explains. Taking on the lease to realise her vision required immense commitment and by working with Star Pubs & Bars, she has been provided with support at every step, from crafting an initial business plan to hiring staff and creating a successful pub, which keeps customers coming back for more. Judging by glowing reviews, she’s succeeded - "An oasis on Piccadilly," raved one TripAdvisor reviewer of her cosy, charming pub.
Tracey is proof that with a clear vision, hard work, and deep care for your business, it's possible to turn aspiration into reality. She transformed dedication into a successful 20-year pub career, creating an unforgettable and eco-friendly experience for patrons each day.
Has Tracey’s story reignited your dream to run a pub? Explore more about The Unicorn Inn and start your journey with Star Pubs & Bars here: https://www.starpubs.co.uk?utm_medium=paid-social&utm_source=national-trade&utm_campaign=mym:ot-ui-tppf-oct-23-social-paid
Make Your Mark: On Tour
Star Pubs & Bars has been on the road this summer, travelling across the UK to bring to life some of the brilliant stories from its licensees and how they’ve made their mark to create successful pub businesses. From buzzing city centre bars to popular pubs on the coast, every Star Pubs & Bars licensee has a unique story to tell about how they got into the industry and created a venue they—and their customers—have always dreamed of. Paired with industry-leading support and a range of different business models to choose from to suit you, Star Pubs & Bars’ proposition provides you with an unmissable opportunity.
1 Research commissioned by Censuswide, on behalf of HEINEKEN SmartDispense® between 26.07.22 and 01.08.22