View Full Version : Student Brewer - Just A Few Thoughts

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24-10-2010, 20:50
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It's been a long weekend. It started with taking my pick-up over to a local quarry to find if they had what I was after. For some daft reason, if I go to the local builders merchants and ask for sharp sand they offer me ballast. Now I'm no builder, but at least over in Norfolk doing jobs for my dad like picking up a few bags of blue circle and sharp was no problem. Here, everyone wants to know what its for before they decide what's best.

So to make sure I got this right I went over, pointed to big piles of various-size stone, told them the size of the area it was for and got it all delivered. Easy peasy. I now know that 'pre-mix' (sand and small stone, just add cement for instant concrete) over in Norfolk is called 'Hereford stone' or something similar.

What got delivered was 10 cubic metres of various stone, each bag weighing in at around 1.6 ton. So yesterday I focused on getting the rockery built, which started with 4 bags of in-fill and 1.5 of 'pea gravel' on top. I'd show you a picture but I've forget to take one. It looks nice though.

Other news - we allow children in to eat. All jokes about what they taste like will be frowned upon unless genuinely funny. Today we had a family in the lower bar, with a young child wandering around the small room at the end. I walked over and asked him to go sit with his mum and dad, at which point the dad came over and asked if there was a problem.

No problem, I explained, but our policy is that children have to be seated whilst in the pub. As an example, I pointed to the wicker screen we had up separating the room from the one next door, and told him that it wasn't secure it was just there so people couldn't see the refurbishment going on behind it. If his son had knocked into it and it fell on him, I'm sure the father wouldn't be impressed.

"O, my son doesn't touch anything he's not supposed to" he informed me. I defaulted to repeating that the house rules are that all children have to be seated. The fact he completely missed the point says it all really. I was also intrigued as to how he knows what his son is doing when he's in another room out of sight. Sadly, when we have to point out to parents that they have to look after their children, this kind of response is all to common - the parent happy to chat to his friends and let the child entertain him/herself.

In other news, one of the irregular locals came in this afternoon - a bloke who is well known in the town but rarely comes to the pubs, and this afternoon was one of those where he was all too happy to let us know why:

'The problem is, you see,' to the few regular locals and myself 'that all the pubs in Hay are expensive now. They used to be full all the time, a good laugh, and no problems. Now, all the pubs are half empty and the town's dead. *Insert a small village pub's name here* is selling Guinness at £2.50 a pint and ales at £2.10 a pint, and it's rammed, all the time. The food's not bad too - he does home-made chips'

A couple of points I'd like to raise. Overheads in a popular tourist town are likely to be higher than a small village pub with a lower turnover. More importantly I'm a big believer in value for money over cost. I believe a pint of ale in my pub is worth £3 a pint. The amount I sell suggests that customers also think this is value for money. I'd rather (and have done) throw away a few pints of ale than sell them at a reduced price - this devalues the brand. Sorry for the marketing talk - it's the only way I know to describe this theory.

On the chips front - I love home-made chips. Hand cut, cooked 3 times, the works. But when your serving the amount of covers we're looking at that's going to take a spud rumbler and a chipper - let alone the staff time to twice-cook the chips before being ready for service.

I can't explain why all the pubs, and the town itself are quiet. It's 4pm on a Sunday afternoon at the back-end of October. But I believe a pint is worth what I charge for it. Otherwise I wouldn't charge it. Profit for sanity, Turnover for vanity and all that. I agree price is a factor, but there is a lot more going into the marketing mix.

A final thought.

It's the small details that make up the whole.

That's why when a guest staying with us for 3 nights told us that she was a vegan, we prep'd up to 6 dishes for her. What she didn't expect was for me to get in a vegan beer for her...


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