What makes a great pub or inn? Some would say a good selection of quality beers while others would say good albeit simple food. Many would regard the look and feel of the décor as most important. The more practical among us would say adequate car parking or clean toilets.
Almost everyone would agree that great hospitality – the warmth and bonheur radiated by the landlord and his or her serving team – is the key ingredient in the equation and is what makes a place special and worthy of repeat visits. But for me there is another factor which although intangible is nonetheless a very real thing. When I think about my experience in a particular pub, I ask myself the question; ‘Does this place have soul?’
The above thoughts came to mind during a recent round of visits to pub and inns throughout the UK in an effort to observe and learn from the best and to inspire our efforts at St Mary’s Inn. I visited some great places during this gruelling R&D effort but the one place that sticks out a mile is the Olive Branch near Rutland in the Midlands. And it sticks out because the owners have achieved so much with so little – the staff are welcoming and friendly, the food and drink offer is a quality one, the décor is full of character and the setting is idyllic.
But more than these things it has that elusive quality – soul! If we can create an Inn in rural Northumberland that comes even close to matching the standards of the Olive Branch and if we can create a place with soul, then the prospects for St Mary’s Inn will be very good indeed.DEN NORSKE KLUB FURNITURE THE GLORY THAT IS FISH AND CHIPS