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Slender is the night

09 May 2002 by
Slender is the night

Iam not a morning person. My day starts at 9am when I feed the cats, Pepsi and Coco, and take our Doberman, Eva, for a walk. By then Omer has already been up for two hours. He will have already started the series of checks of the bar, toilets, car park and cellar that are part of the daily routine Ember Inns relies upon to maintain high standards.

There's no time for breakfast - other than the first of the 10 cups of tea I will drink through the day - before opening the post and checking the food order that arrives at 9.30am three days a week. We live above the pub so it is straight downstairs to work where I set up the kitchen and prepare lists of what tasks each member of staff will have to do through the day.

At 11am our three kitchen staff arrive and we get down to the preparation of the salad and meat ahead of opening time. My staff are fantastic - they know what they are doing, although the way I run the kitchen means anyone could come into the system.

It is part of the Ember Inns philosophy to have written procedures and checklists for everything. This means in the morning all staff are allocated their tasks for the day, including food preparation and defrosting lists as well as fridge temperature and kitchen hygiene checks.

Omer runs the bar side, as well as the administration and banking for the whole pub. We both started working for Ember Inns' parent company, Bass, now Six Continents, at the Stag and Three Horseshoes in Halesowen, West Midlands, back in 1989. Omer started there as a glass collector, when he first arrived in the UK from Turkey speaking no English. After running several houses together, in 1997 we won the British Institute of Innkeeping Community Pub of the year for the South of England at the Old Lane, Chippenham, Gloucestershire.

Ember Inns made Omer general manager of the Bowling Green last summer. It is the flagship pub of the 140-strong chain, which has the group's training academy attached to it. This means everything has to be 200 per cent right in terms of brand policies and procedures, and from time to time we both get trainees from the academy shadowing us through our day.

The pub doors open at 11.30am and food is served from 12 noon to 8pm. Up until 3pm work is non-stop and it is not long before most of the food we have prepared is gone. We serve about 100 covers on a Monday, rising to about 300 on a Saturday. Most popular is the 8oz steak, followed by the mixed grill of steak, spicy chicken, gammon and sausage.

In the lull between 3pm and 5pm I get a chance to catch up with washing up and squeeze in an hour-long break when I go upstairs and take a snack. Omer has a siesta from 3pm to 5pm.

At 5.30pm the food orders start rolling in again and it is usually about 9pm before we stop cooking. I then take 15 minutes for a cup of tea and a cigarette. Cleaning down the kitchen can take us through until 10pm.

I then change into some comfy clothes, walk the dog and tidy the flat. After the bar closes at 11pm we then have a drink with the bar staff, and sometimes a take-away curry.

We go upstairs at about 12.30am and relax, watch TV or sometimes eat a meal, although I know it is bad to eat food late at night. I absolutely have to watch Eastenders every day, so I tape it.

Omer then goes to sleep at around 1am, but I am wide awake at that time so I do some ironing and watch a blood-and-guts action thriller until 4am.

Interview by John Greenwood

The Bowling Green

Friary Road, Lichfield WS13 6QJ
Tel: 01543 257344
Jayne and Omer Dericioglu
Staff: 23
Covers: 100 weekdays/300 weekends
Average turnover: £16,000 to £19,000 per week.
The Bowling Green is an Ember Inns pub, part of Six Continents

Just a minute…

What would you like to say to Tony Blair?
I would tell him to put up the minimum wage because a lot of people in catering get very bad pay and do it because they like the job.

What is your favourite restaurant? I prefer eating at home, but I would like to go to Gordon Ramsay to see if he is what he is cracked up to be.

Who would be your favourite dinner guest?
I have always wanted to meet Mohamed al Fayed. He is a rich man but I feel sorry for him because he can't get a UK passport whatever he does.

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