In 2017 Clive Price became a finalist for the BII’s Licensee of the Year Award (LOYA) as the Managing Director of charming Redhill pub, the
Having relished the experience, Clive has entered LOYA again for 2018 – but this time representing old-world pub and mead hall, The Crown and Cushion in Minley. This quaint Surrey gastropub and favored venue for local celebrations has recently had a sizeable extension added to the dining area and seen a flourish in trade.
Given the rigorous 4 month judging process involved with LOYA, and the challenge of managing several busy pubs, we were eager to catch up with Clive and hear how he’s preparing for the coming months.
BII: How did the pub and you benefit from entering LOYA last year?
It’s a really useful exercise to review everything you do and certainly sharpens the team up and gives everyone that extra sort of boost to make sure they’re looking after their bit of responsibility – whether that’s the training, the auditing, or cleaning.
I think the guys from the Bletchingly Arms got a real boost from it last year and that was nice for them.
These pubs and businesses are absolutely about all the people in them everyone’s got to do their job well for it to be good from kitchen porters to the waiter to the managers to directors – everyone’s got to chip in don’t they? So (LOYA) is a nice thing in the long run really.
BII: What was the most unexpected part of the competition?
I was amazed at how involved, and how in depth it is - in a good way.
Once I made it to the final at Sky HQ, that day was brilliant. You had to go and do three panel interviews - the number of people involved! There was top industry people all gathered there for the day, so that was amazing.
BII: This year you’ve entered LOYA with a different pub, The Crown and Cushion, tell us about this decision.
It’s all very exciting at Crown and Cushion we’ve done the extension and doubled the covers in pub bit - it really has transformed that.
I think this year The Crown and Cushion is so lovely anyway with the refurb and the new thrust of the business it just seemed like the place really. It’s looking great, buzzing, and I’m just really proud of it.
BII: Brilliant to hear that the refurb has given a new lease of life to The Crown and Cushion - what advice would you give to other publicans considering renovating?
People know where it makes sense to extend or to add on… For us it was just obvious, with 55 covers it was just tiny.
Obviously be well planned with it, make sure that everything’s costed and worked out - that you’re using someone reputable.
Things can go wrong with building can’t they and re-furbishing, we’ve done quite a few refurbishments with the company we use so they’re kind of tried and tested.
BII: How long have you been a member of the BII? Why did you join?
Over 10 years I think actually. Really because of course it’s the premier thing to be associated with in this industry.
I’ve used the legal and HR helplines in the past they were very useful.
I think it’s particularly useful when you’ve got a sort of tricky situation and you think, ‘hmm I’m fairly sure that’s what I should be doing’ and to have some sort of clarification (from the BII) gives you a bit of confidence to go – ‘yep okay good.’
BII: Tell us how you started working in the industry
I’ve always done it, so my first job I was a kitchen porter at an amusement park on £1.88 an hour! Then after a couple of weeks a chef left and they asked me ‘do you want to be a chef?’ Yes please!
It was a nice progression – I was earning 5 pounds an hour by the end of the season! So I thought I was a millionaire.
I then eventually moved on and did a degree in catering management and economics at Oxford Brookes University. It was good, and while I was there sort of worked my way through and worked at hotels, and things, at my business now I can honestly say I’ve done every job – back of house, manager, pot wash, I’ve done it all.
That’s one of the things I really love about hospitality, people can rise up through the ranks pretty quickly if they show the right kind of attitude and aptitude… you can move yourself on and really sort of build yourself and your skills quite quickly.
BII: What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to running more than one pub?
You need a policy for everything, checks on everything, make sure what you think’s happening is still happening – and is it set up to succeed really. And that’s another thing as an industry you never really feel on top as you’re only as good as your last service and your next customers.
Really it’s that consistency of delivery. The bigger you get the more you have to rely on other people so you have to develop really good food systems and make sure that consistency is key.
You know it’s no good if someone comes one day and it’s brilliant, but the next week it’s rubbish, then good again, and what people want is good all the time - quite rightly.
People moan about things like trip advisor but we love it, it keeps you sharp, you very quickly know if you’ve not been good enough and that does give you the drive to keep trying being better and being consistent.