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Diving into the Deep End - Reflections of a Reluctant Landlady

Updated: Apr 17

Embarking on the journey of opening our first pub was a mix of excitement and trepidation. After picking up the keys, we had just one week to revamp the place, and we faced a daunting task. The pub, in the harsh light of day, revealed the extent of its wear and tear, and our budget was tight.

In response to our call for help, friends and family showed up with paintbrushes and an unwavering spirit. It felt like a real-life episode of Changing Rooms, complete with a stellar soundtrack, a few beers, BBQs and bacon butties.

Come opening day, we were fully prepared. The menu was set, the kitchen team was ready, and our front-of-house staff brimmed with enthusiasm. Our accommodation was listed on and our new till system was primed for action. The big question loomed: Would customer turnout be a trickle or a tsunami? After months of closure and facing a past reputation challenge, we had our work cut out to turn things around.

Our opening day was a whirlwind of energy, filled with orders, laughter, and the bustling atmosphere that's the hallmark of a busy pub scene. That evening, we closed our doors, tired but overjoyed at our successful start.

Reflecting on our journey, our team's diverse skills were our greatest asset. My then-husband's flair for design and maintenance, my son's experience in large-scale restaurant operations, and my own expertise in human resources, leadership and photography were pivotal. Together, we addressed every challenge to keep the venue running smoothly.

Our initial menu, modelled after large chains, was well-received by visitors but needed tweaking to appeal to locals and tourists seeking heartier fare. Finding the right menu balance was a learning curve for us.

In hindsight, a staged opening might have been wiser, but eager to seize the summer season, we opted for a full-scale launch. It was a bold move for us as newcomers to the pub and B&B industry, but it paid off. I really felt like we were diving into the deep end, but sometimes, that is the best way to learn.

Opening during a recession raised eyebrows, but as one insightful advisor reminded me, "People still enjoy a drink in hard times." This encouraged me to trust my instincts, and thankfully, it worked out.

For those embarking on opening a pub, my advice is to plan meticulously. Learn from industry veterans, and don't hesitate to adjust your course if needed. Sometimes, the first step is the hardest, but it's also the most rewarding.

More reflections to follow - stay tuned.

A picture of a young lady poised to dive into the deep end of a swimming pool below.

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