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When the Kitchen Crumbled – Reflections of a Reluctant Landlady

Updated: Apr 17

Our first venue was a large rambling coaching inn with a separate restaurant, bar area with tables and a large function room with a skittle alley, perfect for celebrating special occasions.  It meant we could cater for large numbers in one sitting.  Our size enabled us to entice coaches bound for Stonehenge and Bath to book and we won some lucrative contracts.  We often serviced two or three full coaches at any one time, efficiently at a speed that met their often-tight schedules.

People booked the function room for all types of celebrations, often playing skittles in the alley that was built c1930’s and which could be great fun.

Our first Mother’s Day event at the pub was a momentous occasion. With a flurry of bookings, we meticulously prepared, our kitchen team curating a delicious Mother's Day menu. We maximised our space to the fullest potential, staggered our bookings and embraced the spirit of the day by gifting daffodils to all mothers who booked.

However, despite all our preparations, disaster struck.  The first few tables were served and enjoyed their lunch.  However, the complexity of our menu and the option to order from the main menu too led to unacceptable delays, impacting customer satisfaction. As more guests came in, the kitchen got further and further behind and crumbled.  Guests got fed up with waiting and the complaints began to mount.

It was an expensive lesson.  I had to discount/refund quite a few tables and my professional pride was badly dented.  We had several bad Trip Adviser reviews, breaking our run of excellent ones. Some guests were really rude to me, ranting that I had ‘ruined Mothers Day” and I could only apologise.

We quickly learnt from our mistakes and: -

- We purchased a carvery unit to make mass catering easier;

- We simplified special menus and made ordering off the main menu by exception only;

- Whilst we still capitalised on space, we limited it to a few covers less to make sure the guests experience was improved.

- I answered all the Trip Adviser reviews, giving generous special offers to those who were willing to try a return visit.

Our efforts bore fruit the following year, with a seamless Mother’s Day celebration.  I was extremely grateful that it had, as I went on a tour of the Houses of Parliament with the local Chamber of Commerce, and we lunched with our MP.  He informed me he had taken his mum to our pub for Mother’s Day and was impressed with how busy we were and praised the food and service they had received. Phew!

A poster saying 'the day the kitchen crumbled'.  Above the words is a close up of skittles in a skittle alley and below there is a plate of nice looking food.

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