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November update: Wild Wood – Christmas

26 November 2009
November update: Wild Wood – Christmas

This Christmas marks the first anniversary for Wild Wood - no mean feat, given the horrific economic climate the bar has survived.

Owner Dominic Wood says: "We opened in a recession and a year later nothing is any different. We haven't cowered to the recession, though - still have money to spend. We stuck to offering what we would in any financial climate: a good-quality product in a great environment."

Because the opening was so delayed last year, Christmas wasn't as prepared as owner Dominic had hoped. "This year we have given it much more attention. The bar is very snug and warm so it lends itself well to Christmas."

The Christmas menu has been available since July, and, perhaps surprisingly, the majority of large group bookings were taken at the end of August and beginning of Sep­tember.

"Our parties are taking all shapes and forms," Dominic says, "from traditional sit-down, three-course meals to drinks/buffet parties and even a mince pie contest! This is great for the bar as we are eager for it to be used by many people with different tastes and needs."

The bar is open until Christmas Eve, then it will close for a few days so Dominic and all the staff can spend time with their families. But the bar is certainly a winter destination and Dominic expects December to be the climax of his year.

"Our back room is booked up for groups of 20 or more pretty much all the way through December, with the last remaining dates being snapped up day by day," he says.

Part of this success must be down to the fact they've directed much of their marketing towards staff at the hospital across the road. "There are so many departments, and they all have individual parties and are therefore a great source of income."

They have also targeted trade-specific magazines and one directed at secretaries and PAs in the local area.

Although staffing is never easy, Wood is lucky to have the same staff he began with a year ago. "They understand the nature of the beast and are all aware that December is going to be very busy; but they also know that I play fair and will organise something for them to repay their hard work."

Wood does plan to have a Christmas party for staff in the New Year, but for now he admits, "It will be more about still being open a year on than a Christmas do." And that's no mean feat, given what has happened over the past year.

Mentor Rupert Clevely says: "It all sounds very positive and he's got December sorted. The key now is to get bounce-backs from those bookings for January and February by giving vouchers or enticements to every customer. If he can use this period to build up trade for early next year, the rest of the year will fall into place. If Dom can get through this period in good shape, he'll be very well set for the future."

NOVEMBER UPDATE

At Wild Wood Dominic is currently looking at taking on more staff.

"When I first met Rupert, we agreed that ‘working on the floor' all day isn't ‘working clever!'" he says.

"I now need more time to nurture the business side to let the bar grow."

However, finding the right people to slot into the working dynamic has proved easier said than done, he admits, adding: "Those that have been with me since the beginning have not suffered fools gladly!"

The pub has started doing an open mic night every other Thursday which has had great results. Dominic says: "The level of talent is astounding and our intimate little venue seems to be a hit with poets, musicians, etc… they aren't the biggest spenders but they create a great atmosphere for others to enjoy."

A winter venue, Wild Wood seems to be getting busier and busier as the nights draw in. In general, Dominic says: "The word is definitely spreading about Wild Wood and the word is good."

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