With the Olympic year upon us, our operators are making firm plans for profiting from 2012. Having all had a successful December, they have now set their sights on addressing logistics, capacity and menu planning. James Stagg reports
Like our other Business Tracker operators, James Parsons at the Nothe Tavern had a successful December. With no extreme weather to put off the punters, the pub had the best ever Christmas period.
"We still had plenty of regulars but many more parties than in the past," Parsons says. "Having started promoting our Christmas menus in July, we managed to get in early and it paid off."
Meanwhile, Parsons benefited from some fantastic timing after a local councillor was on Radio 4's Today programme explaining how prepared Weymouth was for the Olympics on the very day that he put in an application to extend the Nothe Tavern's premises licence.
"We are looking to deal with capacity by extending the bar and opening hours and the day we put the application in, councillor Howard Legg was on the radio talking about capacity," he explains. "That was included on our application and needless to say we've got pretty much what we wanted."
The pub will now have the option of extended hours (from 7am until 1am) giving it some flexibility. "We can now be open for breakfast and also serve alcohol if people want champagne breakfasts," Parsons adds.
Now Parsons has the administrative side covered he has moved on to the more practical needs of the pub. "Right now we are advertising for a full-time kitchen manager, which will take me out of the kitchen so I can look at the bigger picture," he says.
The pub's website is also set to be updated, and its menus will be made more contemporary in design and some dishes will change. "We're also looking at a menu that we'll implement for the Games period," Parsons adds. "This will be a little bit smaller to make life easier in the kitchen."
And his Olympic efforts have been noticed elsewhere in the industry. "We've had a nice letter from Jeremy Pope, who ran a local brewery and who used to look after our pub, wishing us luck," Parsons explains. "He is deputy chairman of the Dorset Olympic Board and said if there's any way to help to get in touch. It's a great contact to have."
The Nothe Tavern Tel: 01305 839255 www.thenothetavern.co.uk
With plenty of time to enjoy a round of golf between Christmas and the New Year, Ufford Park also exceeded expectations in December.
Ufford Park also has more events planned for 2012 in the lead-up to the Olympics. It is continuing to work with Destination Gold, an initiative launched by Suffolk SportsAid Foundation to raise money to support the most talented athletes in the county.
The latest idea is to host a Question of Sport- style fundraising quiz in February. "We've already sold 20 tables," Hawes adds. "It's for corporate guests in the main. We have done it before and it was a great success, with all the regular rounds but with an Olympic theme.
"We cover our costs on it and it's a great way of getting local companies in who may then return for conferences and events."
And it looks as though some athletes sponsored by Destination Gold will be part of the Olympic team. "There's a hockey player and some Paralympians that we're confident will make the cut," Hawes adds. "We had hoped that rower Joshua Tonnar would make it but he's still quite young for a rower. We will continue to sponsor him and follow his progress since we are just off the River Deben which is known for its rowing."
She is also confident that the Olympic torch relay will go past the hotel. "We're thrilled. We'll be able to do an event on the day where people come in and have a drink and something to eat before watching the torch relay go past."
Ipswich will be the overnight stop for the torch, so the day is likely to be a real boost for hospitality in the area.
Best Western Ufford Park hotel, golf and spa Tel: 01394 383555 www.uffordpark.co.uk
Chrys Fisher has had a busier Christmas than most, having overseen the smooth running of the Palmer Arms and also masterminded the opening of the nearby Walnut Tree.
The Walnut Tree is now up and running and beginning to attract both drinkers and diners, having not served food under its previous owners. "We were full all weekend so it's progressing quickly," Fisher says. "But one thing I will say is that I won't necessarily project manage a new opening again. You can see why people make it into a full-time job!"
Like Parsons at the Nothe Tavern, Fisher is looking to take on additional staff to enable him to have a wider perspective on the business. "We're taking on a head chef to oversee both pubs," he explains. "It gives me a lot more confidence in terms of procurement and consistency and takes some of the pressure off."
With a head chef overseeing both venues, the menu will be largely the same, though Fisher says that some dishes do sell better at the Walnut Tree. "If something is doing well we will obviously keep it on, though we do change on a seasonal basis."
Looking towards the Olympic Games, he has a meeting with wine merchants Bibendum, which is the official wine supplier for the Olympics. It has undertaken a two-year study into traffic volume during the Games, and what those people might drink. The information will go some way to helping wine specification at the pubs.
Fisher is also looking to speak to the farmer who owns the field next door regarding the potential for using it for parking. "As well as accommodating our regular guests, we've had a request from the BBC to use some of our parking space," he explains. "It would be good to raise our profile but we need to work out whether we have the space to accommodate them."
Meanwhile, Fisher is continuing to search for a suitable marquee for outside dining and has sounded out a regular who also runs catering firm. "It's a caterer who works on film sets," he says. "He's got a lot of equipment and we're currently talking about how we might work together. He's got lots of contacts, too, and is used to volume catering."
The Palmer Arms Tel: 01628 666612 www.thepalmerarms.com
Caterer and Hotelkeeper has adopted three businesses as they run up to the Olympics as part of the Profiting from 2012 campaign in association with ACT Clean and People 1st.
All three are keen to exploit the opportunity and ensure they're fully prepared. Each month we'll be tracking their progress as they prepare to profit from the games, while mentors will be on hand to offer advice and encouragement.
Our Profiting from 2012 Business Tracker series is published in association with ACT Clean and People 1st
By James Stagg
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