The Marquis of Granby, Stevenage

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A husband and wife team have returned to the pub industry after 20 years to reopen The Marquis of Granby in Stevenage, which has just benefited from a major investment by Greene King Pub Partners.

Keith and Penny Smith ran a pub in Lincolnshire together before taking a break of two decades to raise their children. They opened their new pub in June.

“We always knew we’d have another pub eventually,” said Keith. “We were those nightmare customers that would sit in a pub and say ‘we wouldn’t do it that way!’

“We always knew we’d come back into the industry. We said ‘we’re not going to work for a brewery, we want a lease or a tenancy’.”

Before opening the pub they came along to the three-day refresher training course in Bury St Edmunds led by
Lindsay Roper, Pub Partners’ learning and development manager, and trainer Sam Wortley.

“We’d never met them before but immediately we liked them,” said Keith. “They knew what we were going through and where we were at. I think everybody on the course could say the same thing. They really understood at what point in our career we were.

“We came away from those three days and couldn’t wait to take the keys. When we went into the training we were nervous and apprehensive but afterwards we couldn’t wait to start.”

Food has played a key role in their new pub so far and Keith and Penny have been supported by Lindsay’s team in signing up for Greene King’s food supply and using a pre-designed menu that has allowed them to focus, making sure the first few weeks at the pub have been a resounding success.

“Sam helped us to set it all up. We used one of the menus available from Pub Partners. Tom Watts from the training team helped us as well, to do the first order,” Keith continued.

“We use the menu, but it is one we can interact with and use local suppliers, as well as the supply from Kuehne & Nagel.”

The pub uses the menu but gets its meat supplied instead by a local butcher. It is able to mix-and-match between like-for-like single ingredient replacements, such as steaks, with a supply of pre-prepared meals like macaroni and cheese, from Pub Partners, to provide the best possible experience for customers.

Keith praised the quality of the meals, highlighting two particular favourites with customers.

“We ran out of mac and cheese once and I sourced a different one to usual but everybody knew the difference,” he said. “People were saying ‘this isn’t like the mac and cheese I had last time. The lasagne as well is superb.”