Well Tuesday was day one of having staff in the pub, its a day that has taken 9 months to arrive so I think that it is noteworthy.
Those of you who know what a perfectionist I am will. perhaps, understand just what a roller coaster employing staff has been for me. I am lucky that I have been able to find staff by recommendation which has taken away some of the stress of actually selecting someone but it’s still hard going.
Over the last few weeks I have written contracts, signed up with HMRC, started new payroll systems, produced staff training packages and so much more. In fairness the paperwork is the easy bit the complicated stuff is the personal side of things. The Plough is my baby and I am the only person that has been seen behind the bar since I opened.
How do you explain the various eccentricities and foibles that make up the regular trade at the Plough? how do you document the decision-making process that means that one person gets tea but another gets told that we don’t do hot drinks? How do you identify that dry sense of humour that can come across as rude if you don’t understand it? All of which is before things like all dogs having to be on a lead with the exception of Luna who resides on my shoulder.
It felt incredibly strange to see somebody else behind my bar. That is not to say that it felt wrong, it was a nice indication of progress, it just felt odd. Everything that somebody else does takes longer when they are new and they ask what drinks people want when I appear to have learnt them all. As shifts go it was a very quiet one so it was good to see a the new fella making his best attempts to look busy although at times I felt sorry for him. According to the law of Murphy it did, of course, get busier in the evening after he went home.
So that is one of my big hurdles breached, I am now sharing my bar with another person despite the fact that many people thought that it would never happen. The next big step is to leave the pub during trading, something made much easier by the arrival of my amended licence this morning.
My next big push, as we come into the summer season, is to ensure that we retain the sensible adult environment that is the Plough. Whilst the island council is bankrupt they still provide public toilets (just) and public parks the pub however does not. If your children want to run around and cause chaos or you simply want an environment where you can ignore them whilst drinking can I suggest that you use either your garden or a local park.
I must also share what may be the greatest praise that I have received to date. On Tuesday an elderly couple came into the pub and it was immediately obvious that they had been in the trade, it transpired that the fella had retired 15 months ago but was returning to another pub imminently. His partner fondly recalled that she had held the White Lion in Niton which is sadly closed and they recalled other venues that they had held on the island back in the day.
I was told that the pub looked good, my beer was well-kept and I “run a good pub” which is nice to hear along with the conspiratorial “you will do well here”. What really made me smile though, and what escalated this to a compliment of the highest order was what the gentleman said to his partner “Jack would be pleased”. Jack’s daughter was the elderly lady who I met last year just before I opened, the family were here from 1952 into the seventies. How wonderful to hear that the pub is still trading in a style which would be approved of by a landlord here before I was born.