The Pub People Co is seeing a pick-up in food sales after bringing Greene King’s former catering equipment chief on board to oversee the direction of its kitchens.
David George, an experienced operator who spent 10 years running Greene King’s kitchens, joined the ambitious East Midlands pub group last year and has set to work on reformulating menus and upgrading the equipment fleet.
His all-encompassing role covers everything to do with catering from a total supply chain perspective, including food, hot beverage and equipment, across the firm’s 60-strong estate.
With the chain eager to increase food sales, Mr George has been tasked with examining menu content and menu design, and then making sure sites are fit for purpose to deliver.
“The first stages really were to understand the capability in terms of the chefs’ skill sets as well as the quality behind the scenes — certainly in terms of catering equipment and what was the norm, and then design the menu with the catering kitchens in mind,” he explained.
New menus were introduced into five pubs at the tail end of last year and there has been an uptick in business.
“One house has increased its turnover on food by about 30%. In fairness to that one pub it was a menu change and a manager change at the same time, so the emphasis should be on both, but nevertheless the new menu was welcomed massively,” he said.
While the kitchens at each site will be assessed on their own merits, Mr George has rolled out new equipment in some locations, including Adande refrigerated drawers, Merrychef high-speed cooking equipment and Lincat catering equipment.
2017 will largely involve cherry-picking the best opportunities for investment.
“We have got some pubs out there that are in quite reasonable growth, and have seen consistent growth for two or three years, so at the moment I am looking at ones that are in decline and need more focus,” he said.
“These are good pubs in good locations but for one reason or another they haven’t hit the mark with the local customer. So I think 2017 will be an interesting year in which we will kind of consolidate and understand where we want to put the capital expenditure to get the best return. Equipment will be at the forefront of that.”