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Rachel Truman MBII - The Duke of Cornwall & The Carlyon Arms 

Based in st austell, the largest town in the county of cornwall, Rachel Truman MBII manages two distinctive and thriving local venues. The duke of Cornwall boasts a bed and breakfast offering, attracting visitors from near and far, while the Carlyon Arms offers the locals the chance to get involved in all things entertainment across the week. The BII’s Max Burke MBII reports

Prior to becoming a licensee, Rachel Truman MBII was working as a Teaching Assistant at a local school. When her husband Richard mentioned the idea of taking over his favourite local as a new business venture, she didn’t think twice. Richard’s “Shall we just go for it?” was all the encouragement Rachel needed. Following a successful interview with St Austell Brewery, the pair became tenants of The Duke of Cornwall (known as The Duke), proving that a career in the hospitality industry can provide a fresh spark for anyone, no matter the stage of their working life. Fast forward seven-and-a-half years and Rachel now manages two pubs, recently acquiring the Carlyon Arms situated just five minutes down the road from The Duke. Despite confessing to loving life as a licensee, there are no current plans for Rachel to take over another venue. “I think two’s enough to be honest,” Rachel chuckles. “It takes up a lot of my time at the minute!”

It is not just Rachel and Richard that run the two venues, their son and two daughters help too, and in doing so, continue the family-run tradition of The Duke, which has been a pub since the mid-19th century. The Duke’s ageing infrastructure has provided Rachel with a few challenges: issues with damp resulted in making changes to the pub, including the use of an open fire, to help combat the problem. The traditional two-room layout of The Duke provides Rachel’s the flexibility of having a bar and separate lounge area, which she believes has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to the success of this local favourite. The bed and breakfast offering at The Duke attracts visitors both locally and from out-of-town. Recognising the need to maintain high standards within this offering, all rooms were renovated as en-suite in early 2023, something Rachel labels her best investment since taking over the venue. “It was something that really needed doing, we felt the rooms had let the pub down a bit. We don’t get any complaints anymore. It’s brilliant really.” Although the refurbishment came too late for the potentially uplifting Easter trade last year, it did give them the chance to increase the overnight room rate, which allowed Rachel to breakeven for the year – plus her income has been boosted by customers now booking directly, instead of via booking. com, which saves them the agent’s fee.

With the growing interest in UK staycations, Rachel is now looking forward to reaping rewards this upcoming Easter. “Post-Covid, we saw a big initial uptake when people could travel but not abroad, it is not at that level, but it’s increased since pre-pandemic and Easter is really where we see the bulk of our visitors. Lots of people come down for holidays during that time. It’s an important part of our trade.” The bed and breakfast offer at The Duke provides the only food offering at the venue, with Rachel serving breakfast for all customers personally. Having tried a more extensive food offer many times, the number of takeaway restaurants situated across the road from the pub has always meant that dry trade has proved difficult.

Rachel has not let this be to her hinderance however, instead turning it into a business opportunity. She explains: “We are quite happy for people to bring takeaways in. We supply them with plates and cutlery and as long as they buy a drink we have no problem at all.” Although it may seem a simple local’s pub on the face of it, The Duke provides an offering that not many, if any, other pubs in the UK can say they have – a twilight escape room. Following conversations with a friend during the pandemic, Rachel decided to convert an old room at the back of the pub into the escape room, which has proved hugely popular with customers, whether that be on a rainy summer’s day or for a work Christmas party. This extra source of income made a massive difference to trade at The Duke, with many customers opting to visit the bar before or after they go about their escape room activity.
Ultimately, the success and selfsufficient nature of The Duke has enabled Rachel and Richard to take over their second pub, the Carlyon Arms. The couple are placing a different emphasis on this vibrant venue, which hosts several pool and darts nights during the week and live music every Friday night. “We’ve gone in there and brought it up-to-date a little bit, put a few new pool tables in and a new jukebox. We’ve got the vibe back.”

Furthermore, Rachel is keen to stress the importance of social media in building up their new venue, detailing the success it has brought the Carlyon Arms and offering tips for any licensees who may be in a similar situation. “Try and advertise everything. The more you post, the more you grow your followers, and we have a good following. We make sure to keep up with events, plugging the rugby that has been shown, Halloween and all of the seasons. Anything you can put on there, you should. Even if it’s just pictures of drinks to pique people’s interest,” she says.

As one of the BII’s most active responders to the weekly INNfocus newsletter, Rachel is clearly not one to stand still, always looking to read new information and add another string to her bow. Such is the strength of the hospitality industry, her adventure alongside her family shows the enrichment it brings to so many, no matter when in their professional career they decide to join. Who knows, maybe St Austell could do with another one of Rachel’s pubs after all!


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