Long Live The Local!
It pains us to say, but every day in the UK 3 pubs close their doors and become a memory within their local community. As one of the most popular and beloved pubs in Wiltshire, we wanted to share our thoughts on the recent Long Live The Local Campaign.
Backed by Britain’s Beer Alliance, the Long Live The Local Campaign has been put into effect to not only celebrate our favourite drinking spots, but to shine a light on the challenges such establishments face. A massive 900,000 jobs rely on the pub industry, so continuing tax burdens are set to cripple many thriving and much-loved hubs of the community. We sat down with Des Jones our General Manager to talk in-depth about the issue.
With the stresses and strains on local country pubs, it can become difficult to focus solely on the immediate local community. How does The Bath Arms serve Horningsham and Longleat?
Here at The Bath Arms, we support the various village bodies in any charitable works that they are doing – we also run a local discount scheme. In the old days pubs would have a ‘tap room’ and we very much still operate ours. This is the part of the pub where the locals can relax in muddy wellies and relax without the need to adhere to restaurant dress codes. The local cricket club always has our support, and we like to make our meeting space available for the school when they need it. When the village hall is running events, we’re on-hand to offer assistance.
Do you think that locals receive the attention they deserve from the pub industry as a whole?
I believe that too often in this day and age some local pubs look at their local community as a demographic that they should be trying to maximise profits from. For The Bath Arms, locals are the pulse and personality of our pub and should be encouraged to visit through nurturing and not exploited. For example, we have had a busy couple of weeks with multiple events going on in the area and as such our focus has been on the locals to ensure that they have not felt disenfranchised over this period.
In your opinion, what does the future of the ‘local pub’ look like to you?
In a time where the value of a pound is ever increasing, landlords and managers must find a way to make the locals feel valued but also part of a process. When changes are made or price rises are brought in, time must be taken to communicate that to the locals so that they understand that this is not just a dash for profit but a necessary change. There is undoubtedly a huge desire for villages and communities to have a thriving local, but like all right-minded people they want to feel like they are getting value for money and not being exploited. I do not mean to say there should be a series of meetings where profits and loss are discussed, but I do believe that customers should understand that if they are receiving a quality and relative product that there are factors that go into to providing these products to them.
What advice would you give to those starting out on a career of gastropub management in today’s challenging and competitive hospitality market?
Create a product and stick to it. The first few years will always be tough, chances are you will be taking over a business that has not been succeeding and what is most key at that time is a clear offering that can not only be understood, but one that you are passionate about. This passion will get you through the quiet days. Don’t necessarily try to get to your final offering straight away; break it down over four seasons and get one block in place at a time and do those blocks well. If your building needs some love and your staff uniform needs upgrading but your food is amazing, your customer base will see what you are doing and follow you on your journey. You need a community to make a pub work, that community could be spread over many miles so make sure your channels of communication and marketing are well suited to your target demographic.
What advice do you have for Gastro Pubs in this climate?
Gastro pubs are incredibly rewarding but also challenging. The one thing I see time and time again with gastro pubs is that operators forget about the ‘Pub’ part. There is plenty of choice out there when it comes to eating and drinking, so don’t be a restaurant or a sports bar that does food, don’t drag in an onerous dress code and don’t have 15 screens showing various sports matches. Be a pub that does good food, because ultimately that is why your customer chose to come to you.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Des. If you want to support your local, you can find out more about the campaign here. And if you want to support The Bath Arms? Well, we are ready to serve you the best locally sourced meal around or pull you the perfect pint. We’re not just a gastro pub – our accommodation in Warminster is the first choice for many who choose to visit the area and Longleat.
To spend some time at one of the most welcoming pubs in Wiltshire, simply call in or contact a member of the team who can book you a room or reserve a table.