Dining Room Kirkcaldy

Written by: Sarah Milward
Date added: Wed, 17/02/2016 - 14:04

The right people for the right business

Martyn Stewart and Roddy Jobson have been in the pub industry for more than 15 years – Martyn specialises in managing front-of-house and Roddy is a chef. They had both worked at The Dining Room in Kirkcaldy under the previous owner. When the business closed, the lads received some money, but it wasn’t going to be enough to fund taking on the pub.

They began working in different locations but the team at Belhaven managed to track them down. The lads were keen to find out what was available but felt that running their own business was going to be something that would happen ‘one day’ and was still a long way off.

‘Right from the start,’ says Martyn, ‘the Business Development Manager at Belhaven was keen to listen to what we had to say. We knew the pub was profitable and also what could be done to boost sales. Belhaven were really interested in our ideas.’

The pair produced an extensive business plan that detailed exactly what they wanted to do and it was obvious that they had the passion to drive this business. Although there were other potential candidates interested in the pub, Belhaven listened to the opinion of their Business Development Manager who was prepared to vouch for the lads and believed in them.

‘I have worked for many pub companies over the years,’ says Elaine Kennedy, their Business Development Manager, ‘and I was impressed that Belhaven took my advice. They accepted the business plan from Roddy and Martyn, even though they were not the highest bidder. It’s all about getting the right people for the right pub and it was obvious that the guys were really committed even if their funds were limited. Once we’d made the decision, Belhaven was able to help by putting together the right deal to let them realise their dream.’

‘The pub had been refurbished recently and was still in good condition,’ says Martyn, ‘but we felt that one of the biggest handicaps was the colour of the building. It had been painted a dull brown and simply didn’t stand out to passing traffic and was being overlooked. Belhaven agreed with us and repainted the building – a simple solution that has made a huge difference to trade.’

‘They also helped us with marketing support and built a website and showed us how to use social media for the pub including a blog that Roddy can update regularly. The pub’s trade is spit 70% food to 30% drinks so its important that Roddy lets people know who he is and what he’s doing – it’s his reputation that gets people coming back for more!’

It looks like Belhaven’s faith in the pair is well-founded. The pub reopened in Autumn 2014 and things are going really well. ‘Sales are at a higher level than we’d planned and we are controlling our costs better than expected too which means higher profits. But we’re still being careful as we know that you need to keep an eye on everything. For example, the alcohol drink drive law has had an impact on our business. We’re all about food so this hasn’t been too bad. We decided to stock a larger range of low alcohol drinks and have seen sales of soft drinks increase too – our efforts seem to be appreciated by customers.’