The Bay Horse, Masham

Written by: Sarah Milward
Date added: Wed, 14/12/2016 - 17:38

The right pub for this town

Greene King’s Local Hero agreement gave Gill Nicholls the flexibility she needed to create a business she knew would be popular with customers.

Gill had been managing a Chef & Brewer pub in Masham and was working out her notice. As luck would have it, Greene King had made the decision to undertake a complete refurbishment of The Bay Horse just down the road and the Pub Partners Business Development Manager dropped in for a meeting. He admitted they were looking for someone with local knowledge to run the business when it re-opened – ‘Look no further,’ he was told, ‘our manager has just resigned!’

‘Running a managed pub in the town gave me a great insight into what was needed and getting involved in the development of The Bay Horse at an early stage, meant I could help to make a business that offered something completely different in town,’ says Gill.

‘Masham is famous for being the home of two legendary breweries – Theakston and Black Sheep – and many people who visit the town come for the beer, or work in one of the breweries themselves! It seemed obvious to me that The Bay Horse should become known for the quality of its cask ales and of course, it would need to be able to serve the beers that the area is famous for. However, most pub tenancies require you to stock certain ales and I felt that might be limiting my options.’

‘Fortunately, the Greene King Local Hero agreement is only 50% tied for cask beer and Greene King also helps me source award-winning ales from SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers). Alongside these, I sell my own branded Greene King ‘House Bitter’ which has also proved to be really popular.’

‘We opened in May 2016, Greene King made it so easy for me to get started. They even built my website for me – they ensure I post scheduled updates too. It’s amazing how little things like that seem to occupy so much time, but having things done for you means I am able to concentrate on serving customers.’

‘I take pride in the fact that I use meat from local butchers, one of them is two doors away, the other is just across our back yard – you can’t get closer than that! I source my other ingredients locally too, people who run the market stall in Helmsley supply my vegetables for me. As we get many visitors to the town, I can honestly tell them that the beer and food are both from around here, they like to feel they have come all this way and sampled the local fayre.’

‘Having worked in a managed pub, I could appreciate what I needed to do to create a point of difference for the business. I think it really all comes down to how you treat customers. Running things for myself means that I have a personal commitment – I’m not just ticking boxes and saying the right thing, which I did before. Now the customers are MY customers. That makes a big difference to how I feel and I think that people appreciate it.’

‘The Local Hero agreement means that I have to follow certain operating standards, but I’m used to that. Many years of pub management have taught me just how to do things, so these processes are second nature to me.’

‘I thought I would inherit staff from the previous tenant. When I moved in, I was pleased to have a clean slate so I could recruit the right people to run the business with me. Some have come from the pub I used to work at – I’m sorry about that – but it makes a difference if you know you can work with people and that they will deliver the right levels of service.’