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"I hate pubs, Mummy" - Reflections of a Reluctant Landlady

Updated: Apr 17

A picture of a man knee deep in water in front of a bar - looking miserable.

Navigating the high-pressure environment of the hospitality industry demands not just skill and patience but a profound level of emotional resilience. The pace at which challenges present themselves can sometimes feel overwhelming, requiring an inner strength that might seem elusive in the moment. As the owner of three bustling pubs, our family business encountered its fair share of trials, from unexpected staff shortages, customer issues to equipment malfunctions. Yet, it's the unforeseen crises that truly test our mettle.

One vivid memory that encapsulates the essence of these challenges involved an early morning video message from my son. The footage showed him navigating a foot of water behind the bar, the aftermath of an overnight leak, accompanied by his despondent declaration, "I hate pubs, mummy, I hate them." The poignancy of the situation was heightened by his use of "mummy" — a term he hadn't used in perhaps 25 years — delivered in the most fatigued tone imaginable. It wasn't just the flood that struck a chord but the emotional toll it represented. (He still runs a pub 10 years later, so he didn’t hate them that much!)

A similar challenge occurred following a localised flash flood and I had to ring him and tell him, probably in a similar weary tone, that our pub kitchen was flooded, on a day that we had a wedding booked.  Despite the challenge of pumping out water, we managed to serve breakfast to over 30 guests using a makeshift kitchen setup, including a staff house cooker, a BBQ, and a toaster, and still prepare for the venue for the wedding. This feat was accomplished without letting our guests perceive the chaos that unfolded behind the scenes. But it was a stressful start to an already stressful day.  Such experiences, while taxing, underscore the critical importance of cultivating emotional resilience.

Building and maintaining emotional resilience is crucial for anyone in the hospitality sector. Here are my top strategies for fostering this essential trait:

  1. Prioritise Self-Care: The demands of running a pub can be immense, encompassing both physical and mental challenges. It's vital to integrate self-care into your daily routine, whether through exercise, meditation, engaging in hobbies, or spending quality time with loved ones.

  2. Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms: When confronted with setbacks, having a toolkit of healthy coping strategies is invaluable. This might include practices like deep breathing, journaling, seeking out supportive friends or mentors, or taking brief breaks to unwind and decompress.

  3. Keep Perspective: Amid the hustle and inevitable stressors, maintaining perspective is key. Reflect on the reasons behind your venture into the hospitality industry and focus on the positive milestones along your journey. Celebrate every success, no matter its size, and remind yourself that challenges are only temporary.

  4. Cultivate a Support Network: Surround yourself with a network of supportive individuals, including friends, family, fellow business owners, and mentors who understand the unique pressures of the hospitality business. This community can offer invaluable advice, encouragement, and perspective when you need it most.

Emotional resilience is not inherent; it's a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. Through self-care, adaptive coping strategies, maintaining perspective, and leaning on a supportive network, we can navigate the storms of the hospitality industry with grit and resilience.

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