Cateys 2021: Pub and Bar Award: Joe Calvey, Tim Foster and Anthony Pender, the Yummy Pub Co

08 September 2021
Cateys 2021: Pub and Bar Award: Joe Calvey, Tim Foster and Anthony Pender, the Yummy Pub Co

Sponsored by Britvic

The past 18 months have been devastating for hospitality, but the Yummy Pub Co has shown how a business can thrive, survive and support its local community while facing major challenges, pivoting the Wiremill pub to a delivery and charitable business during lockdown.

In March 2020 six of the team moved into the pub to self-isolate and begin charity work. The Wiremill transformed into a click and collect shop for pre-boxed grocery deliveries. The chefs worked with Age Concern, cooking and delivering food to the isolated, the elderly and those discharged from hospital at very short notice. Care packages and beer packs were delivered to over 300 frontline staff, and customers were asked to donate spare clothing to homeless charity Only A Pavement Away.

Much of the business's success is down to the Wiremill's general manager Joe Calvey. Team members describe him as "genuinely caring" and "the best manager I've ever had", and 36 of his 44 staff volunteered to help their local community during lockdown. Every team member returned to the pub on reopening in July 2020 and April 2021, and 16 current employees were hired through recommendations from existing staff. Calvey gave the team one-on-one support around reopening and created a custom learning and development plan for each person. During lockdown, team members retrained through the online Yummy Academy and are now on rotation to learn different aspects of the business.

Judges also praised Yummy's creativity in launching new products. With six new recruits ineligible for furlough during the first lockdown, the group's owners deferred their own mortgages and pay for six months and created new revenue streams to pay staff. New products include the nationwide launch of Letterbox Cocktails, which sends handmade cocktails through the post, and Gastro to Go food boxes. Yummy borrowed money to build a 164-cover outdoor pagoda at the Wiremill to ensure it could still trade with restrictions.

Yummy has demonstrated that pubs can be a community asset. The team are happy to share with anyone who asks all they have learned over the past year, including how to set up online orders or transform a pub into a meals on wheels service. Foster says: "The Wiremill is just a pub. What we've done this year is to show why ‘just a pub' matters."

What the judges said

"The guys not only displayed tenacity but also agility, innovation and care for their teams and community. A Herculean effort – bravo!" - Chris Galvin

"Joe, Tim and Anthony have been a beacon for how to stay positive and proactive successfully." - Hamish Stoddart

"Not only have they pivoted to create new revenue streams during lockdown, but they have also made changes to the Wiremill to be able to succeed under restrictions. They have gone over and above to support their community, the elderly and charities. They have been highly visible and have campaigned tirelessly for the hospitality sector throughout the pandemic." - Rachel Weller

The shortlist

  • Joe Calvey, Tim Foster and Anthony Pender, the Yummy Pub Co
  • Paul Dodd, the Mariners Public House, Cornwall
  • Nina Matsunaga, the Black Bull, Cumbria
  • Philip Turner, Chestnut Group

The judges

  • Sally Abé, consultant chef, Conrad London St James
  • Peter Borg-Neal, executive chairman, Oakman Inns
  • Chris Galvin, chef-owner, Galvin Green Man
  • Hamish Stoddart, managing director, Peach Pub Company
  • Rachel Weller, director of consumer research and marketing, CGA
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