Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Final Week - It's Been Crazy

What a week!

I don't even know where to start.  The 'Nip & Tuck' project is now complete, excluding a few snagging issues, we are now ready to go.

My old bosses, Paul & Paula came and visited us on Friday evening to see how things were going. Paul asked to me, "Has this been the most stressful three weeks you've ever had?", without a shadow of a doubt the answer was yes.

The upheaval, the mess, the change of routine, the lack of any control, the hiccups - all of it, major stress.

But, my days, it was worth it.

We have a set of values at the pub by which we underpin all that we do.  One of them is about Being Proud of What We Do. The 'old' George was in a functional but tired state, and was something we definitely couldn't be proud of.  You could argue that it didn't quite match up to the level of quality that we strive for with our food, drinks and service. It does now.

My anxiety levels reached their breaking point yesterday. As we were nearing the end of the project it started to dawn on me the magnitude of the stress & pressure the whole project had had on us.  My mind has turned to the community and regular customers, and the hope that they will still love their pub with the updated look - if not love it even more!  

That's the hardest part - the not knowing. 

We have had a couple of people who have managed to get sneak peeks along the way, and the comments have been positive, which has helped to put us at ease.

This Week

The G&D team have been in all week, two days training & three days of  intensive sorting.

Everything that had been removed from the pub for the closure had to be brought back in, washed, polished and put back.  The new furniture had to be put in place, looked at, moved, then looked at and moved again (I think it tooks us nearly 3 days to get that right!).  Then cleaning, cleaning, cleaning - the dust is still coming down even now 4 days on.

Billy took his team out to Fleetwood to the fish market, an early (& smelly) start, to see where all of our fresh fish comes from.  They all had a really good day out, we love to get the guys out of their usual environment and see what goes on elsewhere.  It can spark ideas and a bit of energy, and it's not often that being a 7 day a week business that we get the opportunity to do training as a whole team.

Front of House training was really good.  I am blessed with a brilliant team of people, and this meant that the training we could do could be at a higher level than would normally be expected in this scenario.

The best session we had was on what makes us tick, what makes us stand out from the crowd.  In a previous blog I highlighted how many good places we have in the local area, which I still think is fantastic and it is great for us all to have that competition in the market place.  

We, like everyone else, need a competitive edge. I'm not about to start giving our 'secret recipe' away - but it's not a complicated formula.  

I haven't put any pictures of the new look on this blog, I feel it could ruin that moment, that first impression.  I really do hope that you like the look of your pub.  That's all that's changed, the pub itself is still very much the same.

We aim to be a hub in the community, a meeting place for friends & family, somewhere to celebrate, commiserate, contemplate.  The amount of life decisions that are made in 'the pub' make it such a special place for so many people.

I look forward to welcoming everyone back to their pub over the next few weeks, and getting back to bloody normal!



Friday, 8 April 2016

Days 8,9 & 10 - Progress!

The tilers critique their own work!

10 days of a 16 day project are now completed and my attention is now being turned to the huge week that is ahead of us.  From Monday of next week it is going to be full on. 

Perhaps because I have had little or no control, nor any experience of refurbishing pubs I have not had to think too much about it.  Now that we can start to see how things are shaping up, my mind is racing on how it will all work operationally. 

The flow is such a big part of how pubs work , how people will move about is fundamental to how easily and smoothly the team can operate (it's not just about the flow of beer!).  There are a couple of minor changes that mean we have to think about how it will affect what we do and how we make it work.  The simple things like having items within reaching distance so you don't have to move too far make a huge difference to the speed of service at the bar.

It will take us a couple of weeks to get out of the old habits and remembering where things used to be and evolve with our new pub. I am blessed with a great team of people at the George, all with differing strengths and talents - I am sure we will all learn quickly!

Progress in pictures ...

Bar - New down lighters.

Ceiling Light Fittings

New Snug Area

Lounge Area
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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Days 6 & 7 - 33.3% of the way there!

New Wood Flooring
When we understood how long this project was going to take, there were two frequently asked questions:

"What are you going to do with the staff?"


"Are you going on holiday?"

The latter, while an understandable assumption, couldn't be further from reality!  We have had a ever-increasing long list of uncompleted jobs that we have started to shorten over the last week.  We still have lots to be done too!

These past couple of days we have had a few members of the George & Dragon team around getting stuck in.  Most of the work we have been doing has been beer garden related.  We have refurbishing the garden furniture, jet-washing the Yorkstone flags and having a general tidy up.

There is an ironic chance that when we do reopen, the weather could have picked up (fingers crossed!) & our brand new pub could be empty - as everyone will be outside in the beer garden!

After these three weeks are over, I think I will need a holiday!

Progress in pictures...

Bar tiling - completed.

New bar top on!

The team in action.

Toilet walls tiling.
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Sunday, 3 April 2016

Days 4 & 5 - One Week Down!

'The Square' - Holmes Chapel

Holmes Chapel is such a wonderful village steeped in fascinating history.  This picture of 'The Square' as it used to be just shows what change the village has gone through.

I have only been in the village for 6 years and have already seen major changes, some perhaps necessary evils of modern life, but it would seem they are for the greater future success of our village of Holmes Chapel.  It is good to see the investment going back in to these businesses to help the village continue to thrive and also for Holmes Chapel to be recognised as a successful part of our county.

The pubs, and more in particular, the patrons are great sources of local history. Although not always convinced by the authenticity of the content (especially after a few pints have been consumed) it has to be said that the stories are, more often than not, good entertainment. This heritage of pubs is one of many reasons why I feel that the pub is such a vital part of the community.

The pubs will not survive without the support of the community & the community would be worse off without the pubs.  The local area now boasts a number of pubs that cater for a wide range of wants & needs.  In a time when we are still losing pubs on a weekly basis, I think it is brilliant that we have so many open, trading well and with no sign of that dwindling.


It's been all about the floors and the ceilings on Days 4 & 5.

You'll be pleased to know that the contractors were in first thing Saturday morning working on the pub - they are still right on track for our targetted Monday 18th April re-opening date.

We have seen the majority of the floor tiles go down now, with a little more work to be finished off around the bar. Below are a selection of the styles of tile that are being used throughout the pub.

Toilet Floor Tile                            Fireplace Tile

Bar Apron Tile                             Feature Tile

Most ceilings are now painted, including the extremely high ceiling in the middle of the pub, I wouldn't fancy being that person up there!  The difference that this has made is incredible - the ceilings I didn't think were in too bad a state.  When you consider that the last time the pub was touched was in 2004, 3 years before the smoking ban in pubs, it is no surprise that it has made the difference it has.

Next up for the team is the new bar top, wood flooring installation and more painting & decorating. By the end of Week 2, it will (hopefully) start to resemble a pub again! 

Some of the G&D team will be back to work this week, we have our own mini project getting the beer garden ready for that BBQ Summer they keep promising us.

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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Days 2 & 3 - Has it only been 3 days!?

Office Day - with 'help'

The Easter holidays are upon us, which means that we have both Henry & Clarence about at home. Given the excitement of everything going on in the pub, they want to know what is going on.  In particular Henry, he wants to do everything with me - he doesn't want to feel left out!

This meant that yesterday when I sat down to work on our new drinks list for when we re-open, he had to be involved! 

Normally I would get stressed about having to entertain a 4 year old while typing away at the desktop all the while thinking about whether customers are being looked after in the pub, how long have I got to get this done, then the phone ringing - the list goes on.  

Under the current circumstances with the pub closed, with no time pressure, no questions, no phone calls, we actually had a bit of fun!

Progress so far...

Now, Tony, the foreman on the project politely reminded me about the Health & Safety implications of being on, what really, is a building site.  For me to have official access I have to wear steel toe cap boots, high-visibility jacket and sign in to be allowed on site.  So my ability to take regular snaps has been hindered somewhat.  I shall endeavor to get them as regularly as possible though!

Conservatory Tiles

The conservatory has probably seen the most work in the early days.  The new tiles have started to be placed, pillars removed, ceiling & window frames painted. It's really starting to come together.

We have had painters and decorators here all over today, they have been working outside on all the external decorations too.

Wood Panelling - Conservatory

External Decoration
A bar in bits!
We also had a site visit from the lead designer, Leah.  She was very please with the progress so far, other than a slight timing issue with some tiles for the toilets we are right on track for our planned re-opening date.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Easter Monday & Day 1 - Out With The Old

The Essentials
Easter Monday proved to be a long and emotional day.

In the caffeine and adrenaline fueled clear out, I had completely underestimated the emotional impact of removing all the fixtures & fittings from the pub.  There are so many special occasions and memories that we have been so fortunate to have hosted in the George & Dragon, from birthdays to retirements, Christenings to funerals, we have even had a proposal for marriage in the conservatory.  

So, not only do we have our own attachment to the pub, there are so many others out there that do too. For some it is a home from home.

I want to share something my old boss said to me before taking on the George which has been in my mind for this project, he said to me, "Don't see the pub as yours, it isn't.  It is the communities, the people who have been going to the pub have been doing so for years before you, and will for years after you've gone.", for me, this is why it is so important that we get it right.  It's not for us, it's for you - the community.

Progress in Pictures

It's like a big game of spot the difference!

The conservatory has had the carpets and wood trim removed, the decoration around the fireplace has also gone along with the decorative shelves.  The ceiling has been painted pure white, while the window frames are going a dark shade of green.

The lounge area of the pub has had the centre carpet removed, wallpaper stripped and radiators removed.  The double door side exit to the beer garden has been made ready for being reduced to a single door.  All decorative screens have been removed.
Bar Area

The bar area has had the carpets, decorative screens and radiators removed.  Currently it is housing a plethora of equipment and supplies.


The Bar has had the back bar removed, coolers, pumps & fonts and sections of the bar top stripped out.  

The toilets are now empty shells, ready for a complete overhaul - new tiles, new vanity units, new toilets the works!

That's it for the progress on your pub!  I aim to get daily updates out - so watch this space.  Tonight we are off to the Taste Cheshire Food & Drink Awards, you nominated us for the Best Pub, hopefully we will come back with the gong, wish us luck!