December 12 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
After years of closures, rising tenancy and alcohol prices and the onslaught of cheap supermarket booze, the pub trade’s glass has definitely been half empty in recent years.
One by one, our locals, for so long a welcoming community hub and home-from-home, are being presented with two choices – call time at the bar for good, or drastically alter their game plan.
What is more, the thought of opening a new pub has become something of a distant fantasy for aspiring landlords looking to see their name above the door.
But don’t tell all that to the team at Elveden Inn.
Swimming against the tide of pub problems, the inn, restaurant and boutique hotel opened its doors in November 2011 and has not looked back.
Another milestone was ticked off last week when the inn scooped the AA Hospitality Awards Pub of the Year for England prize.
And this week sees the inn go national as it features on the Channel 4 teatime series, Four in a Bed.
Richard Lawson, general manager, said the pub’s success was down to the “four Ps”.
“It’s a great plate, a great place, great people and passion.
“If we get all of those right we are pretty much there,” he said.
The delivery of a “great plate” is aided by the inn’s home on the Elveden Estate – the “great place”.
The estate, owned by Lord Iveagh, produces a multitude of crops and its development kitchen, run by chef Peter McBurnie, turns out a pantry’s worth of unique award-winning products that make their way on to the pub menu.
There is also the influence of Lord Iveagh’s ancestors, and Arthur Guinness would no doubt be proud of the pub’s efforts on behalf of his beer, with Mr Lawson claiming they served the best pint of the “Black Stuff” in the country.
Getting great people is less of a science, but Mr Lawson said he picked carefully.
“I have never recruited someone just because they can pour pints and carry plates – you have to have personality.
“In a lot of ways you have to be a performer when you are serving people because they are here to eat, drink and be entertained,” he said.
The inn has taken on young people from the local area to do that. Ryan Tanner, 18, from Thetford, said he had flourished at the pub, having never worked behind a bar before.
“It’s a great team to work with and we get trained to do everything.
“I studied business at college but it wasn’t for me and I love doing this,” he said.
The inn’s TV appearance showcases the other side of its offer, with Mr Lawson saying its convenient location between London and Norwich made it an ideal stopping point for many people.
The show sees four hoteliers take turns to stay in one another’s establishment, take part in activities, and then dish out their feedback on what they have seen.
Filmed over two weeks in May, he said the show was “an eye-opener” but insisted the inn held its own.
“It was a lot of fun and had some ups and downs.
“You have to remember that it’s entertainment and more about the people than the hotels, really. It’s there to make people laugh and provoke, which it will do without any question,” he said.
Four in a Bed is on every night this week from 5pm on Channel 4.