Lucy Townsend is the experienced owner of the award-winning Greyhound on the Test pub in Stockbridge, and is the partner of Alex Lewis, who hit the headlines last year after undergoing a quadruple amputation due to a bacterial infection. Driven as ever, Townsend has now launched outside catering company Wilds. She talks to Hannah Thompson about new events, Pinterest and work-life balance.
You already have a busy and popular pub, so why launch another business, Wilds?
It was due to high demand. It started with our fishing clientele asking us to cook for them by the riverbank, as they didn't want to break up their day by coming back to the pub. I was then asked to cater in customers' homes and take control of their events.
How does Wilds differ from your pub operation?
We have to be more structured with outside catering, as we could be in the middle of a field, so we need to ensure we have everything with us. It works well though, as it means some of the staff in the restaurant can gain more varied experience.
Where does the name come from?
We worked very closely with a branding agency in Edinburgh and their brief was to "bring in the countryside". We all came up with a number of suggestions!
How do you balance each element of the business?
We have a good marketing person who looks after Wilds and a great general manager who looks after the Greyhound. All areas of the business work out of the same office, and we all start and finish the day together.
Everyone has different ideas, budgets, etc. I try to ensure we are all honest from the start with regards to what is achievable, and I tend to work with mood boards and Pinterest to gain an idea of themes.
What has been the best thing about launching Wilds?
The positive response. We have met some really amazing people and are honoured to be part of their special occasion.
What is the most memorable event you have hosted so far?
I am a very big lover of winter weddings, and we have just hosted two, which were beautiful.
You and your partner Alex hit the headlines last year due to his health issues and your inspirational 'getting on with it' approach. How is Alex?
He is doing very well. He runs the Alex Lewis Trust from home, and the support has been amazing. He is not only working on prosthetics for himself, but is also looking at helping others. He has also found time to set up an interior design business and work on a Channel 4 documentary.
How have you adapted as your businesses have become more successful?
I have created a better work-home balance. Before, I worked at the restaurant all day, took my work home and worked until 3am. Alex's illness forced me to address this, and we are much happier as a family. Alex admits that it's the best thing to come of his situation.
What would you say is the root of your drive?
I love my job and the people I meet. You never know what one week will bring. I think if you are happy to get out of bed in the morning, you stay motivated.
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