Interview: Brian Whiting, MD Whiting and Hammond
PUBLISHED: 12:14 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:14 23 June 2020
We spoke with the MD of Whiting and Hammond to see how he has been coping during lockdown
Who did you miss the most?
I missed the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Everywhere feels very quiet and a little eerie. I like the noise coming from the pubs, as my office is attached to one of our sites and it’s been very odd with no one around and no sounds of people chatting and eating. Most of all I miss the ringing of the tills as it’s been very hard with so little money coming in to keep the operations ticking over.
Where did you miss going?
I do miss popping into all the pubs, doing the rounds and seeing my teams and the buzz of everyone chatting and having fun.
Who did you speak to the most other than those in your home?
My managers, we have all been in daily contact as it’s been important for me to make sure they are OK. We are a close family run business and work as a team, we’ve all missed the banter and meetings together. We have found WhatsApp a great business tool to keep in touch.
What changes did you have to make to your business?
There may be more changes to come; it depends on how long we will be closed for. My managers have taken the time to make sure everything is clean and tidy, including spotless kitchens and beautiful gardens ready for when we can re-open. We have kept The Rose & Crown in Green Street Green open for take-aways and are running a delivery and pick up operation with a limited menu of our pub classics. It’s early days but we have our fingers crossed it will become a continued successful part of the business when we reopen.
We are already making plans to run the wood-fired pizza oven throughout the winter, which would normally be hibernated, the-roseandcrown.co.uk. We have also done a collaboration with our wine suppliers so that our customers get a 15 per cent discount plus free delivery if they order through www.greatwesternwine.co.uk entering the code whiting&hammond5 to get the full discount. Saves queuing at the supermarket!
What did you learn during lockdown?
That I’m a great delivery driver! During busy times I have helped with the delivery of food and drink but I’m glad I’m in the car rather than on a bike, as some have been a long way away! It has put a smile on a lot of faces, which during times like these is surely a good thing.
We have also been able to deliver some food to vulnerable people whose own families can no longer call in on them.
Where will be the first place you go to eat or drink once this is over?
A nice cold pint and a bite to eat will be well deserved! Hopefully the sun will be shining so I can sit in the garden at The Chaser Inn, Shipbourne and admire the work Duke and his team have done during the lockdown.
What positives can you take from this?
As long as all our loved ones are safe and sound then I will look forward to life returning to normal. Life in this industry is non-stop as we are open seven days a week 365 days a year so there is no time to stop.
Time to think and look at our pubs in a different way and seeing what needs doing has been good and something when busy we don’t get the opportunity to do. Not that I want them to be empty, but it gives us the time to think and get organised ready for everyone to come and visit.
The other positive is my staff, seeing those who are happy to go above and beyond for us; there have truly been some shining lights. I couldn’t have asked for more and will be forever grateful.