Barbados born licensee Trevor Headley turned his love of Caribbean food into a popular catering business, servicing weddings and events, but found that it quickly outgrew his home kitchen.
The seasonal nature of catering and a need for a commercial kitchen led Trevor to the idea of setting himself up in a pub,
“I needed a commercial kitchen, and a winter cash flow as the business was seasonal, so I came upon the idea of renting a kitchen in a drinks led pub.”
While bringing food into a traditionally wet-led pub might have raised eyebrows, it proved to be a master stroke for Trevor,
“within six weeks the pub was packed with diners, and I realised if I could turn this pub around, then I could do it with my own.”
Trevor took on training and a tenanted pub with Fuller’s where he developed his skills as a licensee before finally finding his dream venue, a country inn with accommodation and a wedding barn nestled in Somerset’s idyllic rural South,
“we have the most amazing sunrises over our accommodation as well as breath-taking sunsets over the Blackdown Hills seen from our pub conservatory and garden.”
Trevor wasted no time in making his mark on the pub, re-naming it ‘The Flying Fish’ (as a nod to the iconic fish from his native Barbados) and introducing delicious Caribbean food to the pub menu.
Stepping into an established venue with an existing team of staff, but wanting to take it to the next level of success, is what prompted Trevor to join the BII:
“I have used the staff contract builder which has saved me a lot of headache, as well as cost compared to purchasing a template. I have also used the legal advice team a couple of times when I bought the pub as there were staff who didn't have contracts, but had worked for the previous owner for over ten years. The benefits are worth their weight in gold.”
Although the task of running his first venue, re-branding it and taking on a team of staff might have sounded daunting to some, Trevor was confident that the lessons he had learned from previous employers could be incorporated into a successful business plan at The Flying Fish.
“I used to manage a hotel in Barbados, which was owned by an American lawyer. He told me ‘it’s not what is coming into a business (the income) that you have to worry about, it’s what is going out (expenses). Since that day I have always kept a close eye the costs of everything.”
Trevor explained this is particularly important for managing the accommodation at his pub, where the uncertainty of having guests book (and indeed show up) needs to be factored in alongside cost management.
“Our accommodation can be booked on all the usual platforms in minutes. Not having too much linen sitting in stock, versus not having enough to cope with sudden bookings, requires creative thinking to keep costs manageable.”
Fortunately, applying creative thinking in the pub business comes naturally to Trevor, who recently had a brainwave mid-traffic jam.
“Crawling pass Stonehenge at 2 miles an hour, I always notice the large number of visitors and I one day I thought ‘they must be having lunch somewhere.’ So we have just secured a contract with a large tour company who will be bringing North American visitors from Stonehenge to us for lunch, en-route to Exeter.”
Trevor is a well-known character in the licensed trade, but some might know him better by his nickname, Buddy Love. He will happily share the story behind his alias over a pint in the bar!
Always keeping an eye out for ways to diversify his business and attract new customers, there’s no doubt plenty more to come for The Flying Fish.