Lion Gate, Hampton Court Road, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9DD
Simon & Sarah Bailey have been running the Kings Arms since August 2008, it is their first pub venture. Over the last four years, Simon and Sarah have achieved more than anyone could imagine. They have been awarded ‘Best Newcomer 2009’ by both the Morning Advertiser and Hall & Woodhouse, they have also grown beer sales by 30%, wine by 50% and cider by 65% (October 2011). They also now employe three full time chefs and a full time kitchen assistant, before they redesigned the menu, there was only one chef.
Before taking on the pub Simon was a surveyor, buying land for housing builders and Sarah helped adults with disabilities in finding work. “We always loved eating and drinking in pubs and wanted our own business – so getting a pub was the perfect choice for us, we choose Hall & Woodhouse because they came across a friendly, family run brewery that cared and the standards of their pubs is very good.” Simon explains.
Simon describes the pub before they moved in as “a real nightmare with a few guests. We will always remember being the only people sitting at the bar on Saturday night. The staff were unruly, standards were poor and the place was really dirty. The food was mainly frozen and very expensive.
The first thing we did was take control of the staff and implemented high customer service standards. We then de-cluttered, cleaned and repositioned the furniture to create a desirable atmosphere. We introduced a new menu focused on fresh locally sourced food. We made sure there was always a choice of three draught ales and that they were all kept well. We also opened the pub all day, every day.”
By inviting local businesses to the pub for discounted food and using external boards to encourage passing people to come in, Simon and Sarah have managed to create a strong business. They believe the three most important things to remember are; to always stay in control of your costs, to maintain standards through staff training and to listen to guests as every pub is different.
In terms of advice, Simon says “Really do your homework, research the area and use the business plan as a guide. It’s really important to make sure you offer what is right for your pub. A lot of people do all that work and then put it in a drawer somewhere and never refer to it. Don’t get bogged down by the thousand phone calls and interruptions to your day take time out and review them regularly. It is great being your own boss, and the satisfaction of receiving great reviews and feedback is really good.”