Category Archives: Schooner

15 months

I wouldn’t have thought it possible to pack so much into 15 months. 15 months ago, that is.

My time in the Schooner has been incredible. So much stress in the early days, but so much fun too. The hours/days/weeks were long, but the experience was like nothing I’d known before. I don’t regret it for a second; I’ve learned so much.

A huge thanks to my former partners. We went into this as friends and came out the same. No, we’re more than friends after everything we’ve been through.

I’m now going to do some work on our long neglected house, while researching the next venture.

I could never have imagined that retirement could be so crazy.

The Schooner

Well, I’ve just two more days as a part owner of the Schooner.

I’d not planned on getting into the pub business; it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, but it wasn’t too far away from that.

I don’t regret my time with the pub, even though the early days were tough. I’ve become part of the fabric of the place and I’ll give up my time to help whenever and if ever I’m needed. I want the pub to succeed and I’m sure it will.

I’ve learned so much in such a short time; from Paul (basically everything) and Phil (everything to do with ale) in terms of managing a pub, but from Stew and Steve in running the bar (and top level customer service). And the rest of the team (too many to mention); I’ll miss them all.

The pub had inherited the second best bar in Gateshead strapline, but it’s easily the best.

I might be leaving, but a piece of me will be in the Schooner forever. I’ve so many life changing memories.

It’s a fantastic pub, with a lovely bunch of people. I shall be a loyal customer when COVID-19 regulations allow such things.

Meanwhile, I’ve work to do in the house and a new venture to plan.

So many memories, but here’s a handful.

The Hillbilly Moon Explosion

I’ve always loved making new listening discoveries; there’s nothing better than being overwhelmed by great new music.

Recently, a really nice bloke introduced me to the Hillbilly Moon Explosion. And they’ve since been in my head pretty much non-stop.

Fortunately, I have a large degree of control of Spotify in the pub, so they’re on repeat through the day – at least until one of my colleagues notices.

A good track to start with is My love for evermore (both versions are great).

Today, to vary things a bit, I had around three hours of Prokofiev. Then, when Paul complained, I switched to the Hillbilly Moon Explosion. On repeat, of course. Several hours later, Phil noticed and put some other stuff on.

Pizza

A conversation at work last night somehow ended in the proposal to make a pizza for the dog.

I’d never previously seen her eat so much, so quickly, before. She ate half and would have consumed more had we not removed the other half.

An earlier meal yesterday involved grass.

Bar staff

While the pub can’t open due to the current Covid-19 situation, it’s important that we prepare for our eventual reopening.

Our new barperson in training.

Covid-19

Well, I didn’t expect the pub trade to be easy. We came in at a bad time. We did know that buying-in to a summer pub in the autumn probably wasn’t the best idea, but we also knew that we only needed to get through the winter, before business would pick up.

The winter was probably harder than we’d expected, but we did get through it. But now, there’s Coronavirus. At first, the impact on business was slow, with no change in business. This week began with a busier than usual Monday and Tuesday, following a pretty decent week. But, then, Wednesday happened. The pub was empty during the day, with just a handful of customers coming to eat. The teatime regulars were there as usual, but daytime trade just dropped right off. Yesterday, usually a busy day, was the same. I wasn’t there last night, but the signs of a really poor night were there.

We’re now approaching the weekend; actually, Friday is usually a good extension of the weekend. If business continues at this rate, and the weekend is a failure, we’re really going to struggle and some hard decisions are going to have to be made.

The Government have announced grants, and we will qualify for one, but there’s no information as to how these can be claimed. Apparently, this is coming next week. However, with the assumption that any money would come through mid-April, that leaves a pretty big gap if we’re losing money every day and still need to pay staff and buy stock.

Right now, there’s not a lot we can do. Let’s see how the weekend goes.

Inside Out

Well, the past couple of days were pretty unusual. The BBC’s Inside Out team were filming in the pub for a programme about how hard it is to run an independent bar.

The team (Chris, Andrew and Phil) we’re great, particularly presenter Chris Jackson who kept on working behind the bar when he was no longer being filmed.

The day was so busy, there was little time to take pictures.

What we’d not expected was that the team would be such a nice bunch of people.

There was obviously a serious theme to their visit; running a pub isn’t easy, particularly one that that wasn’t surviving when we bought in. However, after a few months, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

The programme will be shown on BBC1, on 10th February.

Christmas shopping

Well, I’ve now officially started some Christmas shopping. Like I used to do years ago, I opted for the hell that is the Metrocentre, with the aim of picking up most things in one go. Naturally, that hasn’t happened and a return trip will be needed. Anyway, to ease the pain, I’m currently with a pint in Wetherspoons, before returning home. Which I would generally do years ago, too. More recently, though, I’d have a quick pint afterwards working in the van, which is a convenient ten minutes’ walk from here. While that would have been through August, and maybe a couple of days in early September, it feels like a matter of days, rather than months. Apart from the drop in temperature, of course. I should probably call-in to check the van, but the last couple of nights’ working in the pub have taken their toll and I feel really sleepy. After working through the night, I’ve found it difficult to sleep during the day. Still, my labour is starting to pay off.
And, apart from a couple of small finishing touches, the accommodation above the pub has worked out well.
I’m pretty happy with the end result, particularly since we have our first bookings.