I have mentioned customer service before as it is the one thing that can make or break a business, especially the service industries which pub trade falls squarely under. There are pubs like The Falcon at Arncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales which I would never visit again due to the surly landlord. This particular landlord is infamous for his particular brand of welcome, and almost any walker or climber who has spent any time in the Dales will have experienced the pubs unique “hatch” bar and topping off methods.
Strangely in this case however, the “uniqueness” of a badly laid out, inadequately barred hostelry, with staff which, to quote one online review “were like a cross between something from a Hammer house of horrors film and Deliverance” seems to keep people coming. If there was more local competition (the nearest pub is 2 miles up the road, and is the Queens Arms in Litton with its own microbrewery) then life would be more of a struggle for him.
However most pubs are not lucky enough to be in the middle of prime walkers country and situated in a relatively isolated village. People can easily adopt another “local” 5 minutes down the road in many cases. The beer and customer service are king when it comes to retaining customers. However an experience over the spring bank holiday shows how one sector of the entertainment industry have got customer service down to a tee.
After a weekend of having to work everything around a 16 month and 7 year old, me and my wife took a visit to the cinema in Bradford. While there we used the casino for a couple of drinks before the film, and the level of customer service is top notch, quick, friendly, attentive, accurate. However what makes it special is that bit at the end of the “transaction” where they hope you have a good evening. In the casino trade, this of course is essential as you are encouraging people to stay as long as possible and spend more money on the table and slots.
In many of the best pubs you get this as well, but a lot of pubs have forgotten this, as well as many restaurants. It is things like this which endear loyalty to a place, as well as other things like getting a goodbye when you leave the pub, and “the usual?” when you enter. It’s that personal “hook” which is important.
In the past few weeks, you cannot help but see the new Wells Bombardier advert featuring Rik Mayall as the self titled character. For those of you who have reached their mid 30’s, I’m sure the same thought crossed your mind as mine the first time you saw it, namely “He’s doing a Lord / Captain Flashheart from Blackadder”. In fact you could put the “Bombardier” into Blackadder 3 along side Wellington and he wouldn’t look out of place.
The beer itself is one I have not tried in many years, not on a merit basis, but just overlooked. In the pub I visited for dinner on bank holiday Monday, they happened to have it on tap. Slightly darker than I usually go for, the beer has a nice taste, going towards fruit and a hint of pepper in flavour. The beer is not one which would make my top 10, but one I would be more than happy with for the duration of a session.
Meanwhile there appear to staff changes afoot at Eddie Geaters’ latest acquisition, the Barge and Barrel, with one of the very long term staff there now appearing to have transferred her services to the Ship Inn down the road. I haven’t yet had a chance to visit the pub since he took over, so will reserve any comment until I do, but the beer selection seems to be keeping its variety and quality from the listings in this paper.
Another pub that is calling me is the newly re-opened Royal Oak, now titled “Dirty Dicks Food and Ale Emporium. The promise of decent food, continental beers and 8 real ales is one which really cannot fail. This latest opening reforms the real ale triangle with the Three Pigeons and Pump Room which used to exist when the Royal Oak was a proper ale pub.
It is good to see that we are now having pubs re-open with a good ale selection on a regular basis. In the last year we have had the Old Post Office, Ring O’Bells and now Dirty Dicks, as well as the adoption of more real ales in established premises. Earlier this year, I said Halifax has a long way to catch up with its neighbours, it is now starting to do that.