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May update: The Taverners

22 May 2009 by
May update: The Taverners

The Taverners in Godshill on the Isle of Wight has had a seemingly constant struggle with obtaining and keeping good-quality staff, as covered in earlier updates, owingto the mentality of many of the island workforce to "chase the pound".

This is in part an understandable by-product of the seasonality of work there, but a nightmare all the same for husband-and-wife team Roger Serjent and Lisa Choi. Advertising is usually done in the local paper and although the response is good - 100 applicants for a recent job - there are generally a lot of timewasters.

The recent appointment of a third chef in the kitchen was supposed to enable head chef Serjent to get out front of house more often, but, in what must be a welcome challenge, the Taverners has been so busy recently that this hasn't happened yet. Also, despite healthy trade, as a small business, the duo can't afford to pay above-average wages and are attempting to come up with alternative incentives for staff.

Mentor Lee Cash has suggested using New York restaurateur Danny Meyer's "100 coins" demonstration. This visually illustrates to staff - who remove coins from a glass to represent food costs, bills and wages, etc - that the amount the business actually makes in profit is far less than turnover alone suggests, encouraging thrift and dispelling any illusions that the owners are in fact coining it.

As well as offering staff holiday pay - a rarity on the island - Serjent and Choi have set targets for front of house and the kitchen, which, for the latter, if achieved sees cashput into a kitty to pay for a day out for the team at the end of the touristseason. Cash tips - the majority - are split evenly between the team.

Non-cash tips are retained by the business to cover breakages, etc. Serjent and Choi have now been at the Taverners for a year, and two members of staff have been there since the beginning. One is embarking on an NVQ course in management, which they are supporting her in, and another, originally a kitchen porter then chef, is making the move to front of house.

High Street, Godshill, Isle of Wight PO38 3HZ
01983 840707


MAY UPDATE

The Taverners has set up a second cellar for its popular front bar and can now operate from both (originally the front bar was a temporary arrangement for the winter, with the beer stored outside as it was too much to pull through from the back bar).

Its own dedicated brew, mentioned in last month's update, is selling well and pub owners Roger Serjent and Lisa Choi intend to get some bar runners made up to promote it further.

Punch Taverns owns the Taverners. There has been a change of business retail manager and property manager at the company, so Serjent and Choi are still waiting on a decision about their damp problem and water-filled basement. The external staircase up to their flat has also collapsed.

An initiative by the couple to swap locally grown vegetables for beer has also garnered coverage in the local paper.

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