Restaurant and pub company Brunning and Price was started in 1989 by two friends Jerry Brunning and Graham Price. Since then it has grown into a family of pubs spanning the country with a host of locations in North Wales, including the Corn Mill in Llangollen and the Dinorben Arms in Bodfari.
We asked Andy Barker, manager of the Corn Mill, about the firm’s approach and why it has invested in Denbighshire.
Brunning and Price has opened two restaurants in Denbighshire, out of six in the whole of North Wales. What attracted you to Denbighshire?
When looking for new Brunning and Price pubs we are always seeking something that little bit special. That might be a charming building or amazing historical architecture or a wonderful location with a stunning view. Denbighshire is beautiful and packed with history, so it seems a perfect fit for us.
Denbighshire has a great selection of local produce – what type of producers do you work with in the county and how does that benefit you? We show our ‘ale miles’ on boards above our bar and strive to make sure that we use as many local brewers as possible, supporting the local industry – but also providing a quality product. We also love to use local cheeses so like to seek out great producers nearby.
What do you think makes a strong market town?
We are really into ‘people’. Without our people and the atmosphere they bring to our pubs we wouldn’t have anything to offer and a market town is the same. It’s essential, having markets and shops, these just bring people together to form a community and it’s
that that makes for a special place. We like to think we help out with community by sitting at the heart of things, as a meeting place for people to chat and stay in touch with each other.
What are the benefits of being located in a thriving town like Llangollen? How does the proximity of a vibrant selection of local and independent traders help your business?
Llangollen just offers so much with the canal, the river, the railway, the walking and all the other outdoor pursuits that are now available via many different operators. It is a huge help to be part of a thriving community that has certainly become more popular as a tourist destination over the past twenty years. The main benefits are that there is a huge footfall through the town and that gives us exposure to a huge amount of people from lots of different regions. The town and community sells itself very well with all the independent retailers and different events that go on and we are glad to be a part of that.
The firm has enjoyed tremendous growth over the last three decades, what has been behind it?
We have very much stuck to what we do best and the principles that we first started with. Our pubs are run by the teams there, with an owner operator feel, head office is there to help the crew in the pubs do what they need to do to offer a great experience for the customers. We try to keep things very simple, not deviating from our goal of running great pubs. Even though we are bigger we are still a family and that’s the main thing, just a bigger family. Everyone treats each other as they would like to be treated themselves.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
I guess you will have to ask our customers that. We tend to concentrate on what we are doing rather than look to others to compare. We would say though that fresh food, designed by and for individual pubs is pretty hard to find outside of ‘independent pubs’. Our head chefs work with local suppliers, so for example we source sausages, meat and cheese from North East Wales. The rest of the teams design their own menus which change slightly daily – that’s pretty rare as it’s so tough nowadays keeping all of the allergen information up to date.
Customer service is an important part of your business – how do you ensure everyone stays on message and keeps smiling?
We strive to be at our best all the time. The main thing is to employ lovely people – we can teach them the rest, but if they have good hearts in the first place hospitality comes naturally to them. There is no message to stay ‘on’ – we just find nice people, treat them nicely and they in turn are happy to be at work and interact happily with the customers.
Stephen Dodd / bigcheese.co.uk
For more interviews with Denbighshire businesses, hints and tips for success as well as advice on important topics facing traders in the county, such as networking and promoting themselves through social media read the Town Business e-magazine here