Archive for October 29th, 2008

Jeff’s parents probably tried to do the right thing. They followed Willie Nelson’s advice in Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys”, namely let them be doctors and lawyers and such. But what does it help when your son abandons his career among the dusty tomes of law reviews and starts running a pub instead? Especially at a time when pub licencees are reported to be leaving the trade in hordes, the rest crying in their beer as the last regulars pop down to the corner where they give away canned Stella for free.

They should be pleased. I walked into his pub off Clerkenwell Street last week, and was got a warm greeting. And this warmth was not only for an acquaintance known to publish his views of beers and bars on various websites. No, Jeff and his two female staff gave the same greetings to everyone who looked in the door, led them towards the dining room or offered the a choice of drinks.

So, why should Jeff and his crew succeed when others fail? ?

On-trade beer sales continue to plummet BBPA figures show 1.8 million less pints were sold in three months to September, says the Publican. Not in the Gunmakers Arms. Why not?
1. Service. Old fashioned service. Jeff and his staff seem genuinely enthusiastic about the place they are running. A place where everyone is greeted and made welcome.
2. Location. Despite it being down a side street, they are building a loyal customer base from the area, particularly those who work in the office blocks nearby.
3. Food. When I entered at 12.30 on a Tuesday, it was empty. When I left an hour later, most of the tables were taken. A dozen meals on the menu, from the basic pasta and burger to slightly more sophisticated stuff. Pork pies, too.
4. Beer.  There are currently two cask ales on, lovingly tended for. They will be joined by two more, which gives a fine selection. And the beers have a fast turnover, which means all drinkers will have a fine pint – and will want to come back for another.

5. There is probably a lot of hard work here, too, but without the positive attitude you could put in just as many hours, but without the result. More about the work and the philosophy behind it on Jeff’s own blog.

I’ll be back the next time I’m in London- I look forward to the expanded beer selection! And why can’t I have a pub like this in my town?

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