Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Pub landlords given cash for good service

FOUR pubs in the Henley area have been honoured for customer service with prizes of up to £2,000 each.

FOUR pubs in the Henley area have been honoured for customer service with prizes of up to £2,000 each.

The licensees of the Three Horseshoes in Reading Road, Henley, the Plowden Arms in Shiplake, the Catherine Wheel in Goring and the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row were winners in this year’s Brakspear Hospitality Awards.

They achieved the highest scores out of 145 pubs in the mystery customer scheme run by Brakspear.

The winners were announced at a special presentation held aboard the New Orleans and each licensee could choose to receive either £1,000 in cash or £2,000 invested in their business.

James Dawe, who has been licensee of the Catherine Wheel for less than a year, achieved a 100 per cent score in one of the two visits by mystery customers.

It was only the third time a pub had scored perfectly in the three years the scheme has been running.

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “Our winning tenants and lessees have displayed amazing levels of talent, business acumen and commitment to make their pubs the best in the Brakspear estate this year.

“Their achievement is doubly impressive as we have made the mystery customer scheme more challenging each year in order to reflect the ever-higher expectations of our customers.

“The fact that our winners exceed these expectations is cause for celebration and it is a pleasure to reward them.”

Nigel Rainbow, landlord of the Three Horseshoes, said: “We’ve been here for 14 years and we’ve learned that to run a successful pub, you have to focus on giving your customers a great experience every time they come in.”

Mr Rainbow, who will receive £2,000 to spend on the final phase of the pub’s refurbishment, thanked his staff for their support.

Ruth Peters, who took over the Plowden Arms with her fiancé Matthew Woodley in October, said: “We’re delighted considering it’s the first pub we’ve run and we’ve only been doing it for a matter of months.

“Good hospitality is not just about one element. Everything has got to work together to provide an excellent customer experience.

“Atmosphere is just as important as friendly service and staff knowledge is just as important as great food.

“Allowing staff time to learn is imperative — for instance, our front-of-house staff each have a go at cooking a dish off the menu so they can have a more knowledgeable conversation with customers.”

Mystery customers visit every Brakspear pub twice a year and answer more than 100 questions covering all aspects of hospitality, including cleanliness, service, marketing and merchandising.

Scores increased by four per cent in “wet-led” pubs, which don’t sell food, and two per cent in food-led pubs.

The other winner was the Blackwood Arms in Burnham. Telephone: (01491) 419419 Email:

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