Give me a pub team anytime! (… so says Roy)

Image: Felipe Dan Reis

Image: Felipe Dan Reis

Any place that runs speed-eating competitions would probably have their stocktakers tearing their hair out over pre-ordering quantities for the event. Especially if the world champion competitive eater is expected in town. But in order to be recognized, she’d probably have to wear a notice saying “I’m the Champion” because the petite, size 8 mum-of-four doesn’t look like she could shovel away a 5000 calorie burger in six½ minutes! The “Stellanator” consisted of six slabs of meat, slices of cheese, six fried eggs, 12 slices of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, pickles, grilled onions, peanut butter, jalapenos and then there was the bun (top & bottom) to keep it all together.

It all started off as a way of proving someone wrong – as one does – and things escalated from there to 9 lb burritos, 54-inch pizzas and more. I’m still trying to get my head around how she manages to work her way through a 12 lb sandwich and 1 lb of fries in 53 minutes!

The question many ask is, “Why?” But Mollie Schuyler does it for the money. In January she scooped £17 800.00 for guzzling 363 chicken wings in 30 minutes.

Money also seems to be the motivation for becoming a professional football player. You’d think that earning 200 grand a week would be enough. But no, Yaya Touré “wants his cake and eat it” too! But Manchester City insist that they did give him a cake to celebrate his birthday. I didn’t realize that birthday #31 was such an important milestone.

Who would be a football coach? Especially when your star player is miffed because no one (allegedly) gave him his birthday bumps? And especially if you’re Louis van Gaal, the new coach of Manchester United when the National Coach has said that he could beat Man U with a pub team if he had six months to prepare! And he’d probably only have to pay them in pints and crisps, too.

But for that matter, who’d be a politician when things go wrong for some of them the way they did this week. You had a leader who didn’t know who he was there to support, nor who was running that particular council – all caught on two separate occasions on TV and on radio. Awkward.

Or the politician that organised for steel band who were all set to play their tunes and entertain the crowds when they discovered that the political party that had contracted them wasn’t who they wanted to support. “Pack the drums away, lads, we’re outta here!” I wonder if they had to return their fee?

Jon Rutter would be the first to tell you how imperative careful planning and good strategy is in running a successful pub, restaurant or club. Sportsmen and politicians could do well to take note of his principles and ethos – if they did, they’d end up with the cake they wanted, knowing what candidate they were there to support and they’d have had music to dance to as well.

The beautiful game showcase kicks off in Brazil in 21 days time – hopefully the hosts have their careful planning and good strategy all in place. 

All it takes is teamwork …

SeatsIt’s only a ten minute drive along the A56 & A57 to get from Old Trafford to The Etihad but even though they’re in pretty close proximity to each other, the similarities in atmosphere within the two giant clubs ends there! ‘City’ are already talking about conquering Europe while Man-U ex-captain, Roy Keane is urging his old club to ‘get tough’ and is also suggesting that some other personalities need to step up to take responsibility for the Club’s showing over the season and not lay everything at Moyes’ doorstep.

A lot of what Keane says can be translated into one word, “teamwork.” Clearly, City was the more successful club of the two from Manchester that gelled as a team and they have the results to show for it. A disjointed team, for whatever reason will result in below average performance and sometimes even cause the whole shebang to leave the rails completely.

Sometimes the main players in a team forget that there are others who are also part of the same team, just not as prominent. Like the chap who carries the drinks, or the one who arranges the bus for the team to travel in, or the person who makes sure that nothing gets left behind in the change-room when the players go back to their hotel. They’re all part of the team but most people don’t even know they exist. And if their particular function breaks down, it impacts on the whole team – sometimes as a minor irritation and sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

Well, someone dropped the ball at Jamie’s Barbecoa Butchery recently and the whole team felt the impact. But, it only came to light after a freedom of information request was submitted (I suppose some things don’t liked being aired to the public). It revealed that the establishment had received a ‘hazardous‘ assessment and closed down to remedy the situation. This is not the first time this type of problem has plagued Jamie – last year his Portsmouth branch of his Italian chain paid £17 000.00 after pleading guilty to breaching the Food Safety Act.

Many establishments will agree with Jon Rutter and his team of professionals when they say that their stocktaker is definitely part of their team. They work in the background and most folk aren’t even aware that they exist. But without them the wheels of an operation can come off rather rapidly. Stocktaking services provide all the figures needed to keep up to date with exactly what is happening at the premises. Specialist stocktakers ensure that the their extensive experience avoids unnecessary wastage or losses (whether accidental or otherwise) and recommended action is passed on to the client to keep everything running smoothly. Just what a team needs! 

Some restaurants have had a team member suggest installing fish tanks as they can create an ambience of peace and tranquility. Others have tanks so customers can choose their own particular fish or crustacean to have prepared for them. One hotel in the Maldives has gone to the other extreme and has their restaurant built under water to give diners a view of the free-swimming fish, turtles and other sea creatures all around them.

The hotel is inviting the guests to “dine with the sharks” … hopefully the sharks don’t get confused and start thinking the ‘tank’ is showcasing diners for their benefit.

“And the Winner is …”

The start of a year brings with it, apart from some really cold weather and bills from Christmas, the roll-out of the “awards season” … the BAFTAS, the EMMYS, the OSCARS and more. The hospitality industry aren’t left out either. Two that caught my eye are the “BII Licensee of the Year Award” and “The Publican Awards”. Both soirées will take place later in the year, but the process is now in place and some semi-finalists have been named.

There are some who are a teeny bit cynical about award do’s suggesting that they are just an excuse for a good party at someone else’s expense. But on examining the various criteria and some of the categories for these awards, it’s difficult not to feel respect for those making it through to the short list.


The search for the BII winner is about to enter another phase of analysis and judges scrutiny as they look for “genuine passion, outstanding drive and the highest level of professionalism.” And after that is done, those still standing will be grilled in front of the judging panel until the winner is whittled out and finally announced on 14th May.

March 11th at the Grosvenor Hotel will see the presentation of the Publican Awards. These will focus on specific aspects of the industry and recognise their achievements. Awards for ‘Best Late Night Operator’ and ‘Best Pub Employer’ are among the many categories.

These events are the culmination of the process that various branches of the industry use to ensure their standards are at the level to which all should be aspiring. They also serve as a challenge to their peers to raise the bar in the various categories of service, décor, operations, initiative and so forth. Unlike the Oscars where it is all done for ‘entertainment value’ these awards are much more serious as they represent standards that directly impact on the public in the areas of food and drink safety, comfort and accommodation.

That the industry is taking all this seriously is good news for ‘Joe Pub-visitor’ as it ensures there are those who value him not only as a regular but that he goes home well satisfied, well fed, watered and rested too. So those not in the industry shouldn’t view these awards in quite the same light as those awarded for making them laugh and cry from a TV programme or film.

The players in the hard world of keeping the customer satisfied will value stocktaking companies like Rutters in their bid to attain and reach the standards their own industry demands. Without their professional help in the planning, feedback and advice they provide, it is virtually impossible to achieve the high standards these competitive awards are judged on.

The fact is, so many enter, but only a very few are able to achieve the acceptance-speech level. And this is where the unfairness of these awards creeps in. It is only the short list and the final winners who are paraded, photographed and lauded – that the public might conclude that the unnamed remainder of establishments are not good enough. Not so! It is a very tough competition with very high standards and there can only be one winner – it doesn’t mean the race wasn’t hard-fought.

Wouldn’t it be great to see your favourite pub with an award proudly displayed? But if it’s not the winner, it’s still the place that you choose to be – so don’t stop. Your Publican won’t stop trying, and maybe next year you’ll get the chance to have a swig out the trophy, along with the other loyal supporters.