The sun has finally come out, just as our business trackers get ready to discover if the months of preparing for the Olympic Games have been worth it. James Stagg reports
The Nothe Tavern
It's the calm before the storm at the Nothe Tavern in Weymouth, where licensee James Parsons is making the final preparations before the Olympic sailing supporters descend.
The pub has been relatively quiet for July, with wet weather affecting sales and entirely wiping out any garden trade, but with the sun making an appearance along with the Olympic crowds, business should be booming by the end of the week.
"We're in a void period where the nearby viewing area is sealed off while they erect marquees," explains Parsons. "Road access is OK but this week the car park over the road will be lost to residents parking and a disabled drop-off point. All the on-street parking will disappear, too. So we're expecting this week to be a bit quieter and then it will just go bang on Friday and Saturday."
The sailing begins on Sunday, but from Friday a "live site" will be located on the beach, with big screens showing the opening action and events throughout the games. So, even when there is no action in the Solent, there will be a reason for visitors to head into the town.
With the possibility of so many more guests for the pub, all staff have been issued with new fully branded uniforms to make them easily identifiable. Meanwhile, delivery restrictions mean that Parsons has had to make alternative arrangements.
"All our delivery drivers have keys to give them access to a secure drop-off point," he explains. "Most will deliver between four and six in the morning.
"We're having big deliveries this week and will do a lot of bulk cooking to prepare. We're batch cooking trays of lasagnes and burgers - it's the type of food that will go."
The pub will also have a static specials board for the two weeks of the games. "Normally we'd have between six and eight daily specials depending on what's good and available, but we'll keep them the same for the two Olympic weeks so we don't have to think about changes," Parsons adds. "Many of our local customers have said they won't come to us for those two weeks as they envisage it'll be too busy so, assuming we get different people every day, it doesn't matter that the specials are the same for two weeks."
Though they will remain the same for a fortnight, the specials will still feature local meat, fish and cheeses. In order to cope with demand, Parsons is also considering operating a carvery each day to take some pressure off the kitchen.
"It's all a bit unknown at the moment though," he says. "But after the first day we'll sit down and assess how it went, what is selling and make a solid plan for the rest of the event."
The Nothe TavernTel: 01305 839255www.thenothetavern.co.uk
Ufford Park hotel, golf and spa in Woodbridge has already received a visit from athletes training locally, while staff are about to mark the opening ceremony with a meal for local Olympic sponsors.
Some Brazilian gymnasts, who have been training at the nearby Ipswich Gymnastics Centre, have visited the spa at the hotel. Closer to home, local athletes are to be celebrated by members of Destination Gold, an initiative by Suffolk SportsAid Foundation to use the excitement of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to raise money to support the most talented athletes in the county.
"This Friday, for the opening ceremony, we're holding an event at the hotel for all Destination Gold members and their staff," explains Ufford Park revenue manager Melanie Hawes. "We're going to have a barbecue and we'll have large screens up for the opening ceremony."
The Destination Gold members are local businesses - including local brewery Adnams - who sponsor Olympic hopefuls from the area. "The event will be good publicity for us and a great thank you to all the Destination Gold staff members who have raised money for the athletes," Hawes says.
July has been hit and miss, she adds, with good occupancy at the weekend but, with corporate business dropping off and poor weather, midweek hasn't been as busy.
"We're hoping the weather stays as it is now, with some sunshine, and that we get a few more bookings," Hawes says. "Though we are lucky we have the swimming pool and other facilities so people can be indoors if it rains. Especially as it's now school holidays, if the weather stays as it is we'll do well."
However, August is already looking up on last year, although Hawes doesn't put that down to the Olympic effect.
"I can't say we've seen any business directly related to the Olympics, which considering all the hype is disappointing," she adds. "Fortunately, our strategy was never to ramp our rates up and we only put minimum restrictions at the weekend. Strategy wise it was to keep on par in any normal year, and we'll exceed that."
Best Western Ufford Park hotel, golf and spaTel: 01394 383555www.uffordpark.co.uk
The Palmer Arms
Chrys Fisher at the Palmer Arms near Dorney Lake is anticipating some early starts when the Olympic rowing supporters arrive.
"We'll be starting breakfast on Saturday, which is a bit daunting," he says. "It'll now be early morning starts for a couple of weeks. We've had a lot of enquiries about our car park and providing breakfasts, so we're just meeting the demand for the two weeks of competition."
Being on the doorstep of the lake, Fisher plans to charge in the region of £30 for parking and give out a voucher for £10 that can be redeemed against breakfast or lunch.
"The dilemma is that we can't rip off our locals, they are here all year round," he says. "Some have Olympic tickets and if they come and pay over the odds they won't come back - that's why we want to offer some value with the voucher."
The rowing begins at 9:30am so Fisher will be serving breakfast from 7am. The early start also means he has time to organise hog roasts in time for the lunch trade.
"We'll have it all ready to go so in the morning I'll just have to turn it on, as it takes about five-and-a-half hours," he explains. "The ideal situation would be for people to have breakfast with us, go off and watch the rowing and come back for lunch."
The hog roast will take some of the pressure off the kitchen and will help when the pub welcomes coach loads of guests. It copes with a first sitting of 90 covers most Sundays, but if all those people turn up at once after Olympic events, the hog roast will provide some relief.
And those outside will also be served from a new bar set up in the garden. "We've got the bar set up outside now which Greene King has organised and it's even better than I envisaged," Fisher says. "It's even got a cellar and chillers so will be a fully stocked bar, but outside. I just hope the weather lasts."
Though he is still unsure quite what to expect, Fisher believes the pub is now ready for the weekend's action.
"We've already had some coaches and officials in," he says. "There are thousands of people over there right now. We had assumed as the lake was on shutdown we wouldn't get much trade but as people have been training there, we've had the benefit of the lunchtime trade. But we still won't know exactly what we should expect until we have the first day."
The Palmer ArmsTel: 01628 666612www.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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