hi, anonymous customer! [2 star rating]

well, i’m calling you anonymous [2 star rating], although i’m fairly certain that i know who you are. you’ve been in here several times before and personally i always quite liked you – you were always polite, friendly, and enthusiastic about the beer and food we offered here; one member of bar staff once said that he thought you were a bit off hand, a bit smug, a bit sarcastic – but we talked it over and agreed that he’d probably just misunderstood something you’d said, or that you were probably a nice guy having a bad day. shit happens. anyway, you’ve been in several times since that incident, so it’s forgotten about.

so imagine my surprise to find that this weekend, you think that our pub is dirty, dingy and unkempt! now as someone who runs a pub, i’m more than used to people telling me what they think. the vast majority say so in person – most of them complimentary but occasionally not. after all, you can’t please everyone, and one person’s heaven is another person’s hell. and you see, when people complain in person (or via e-mail), when you can look them in the eye and talk about things like adults (or when you have a personal connection over e-mail, rather than someone venting their spleen in public), you can usually explain things and agree to make friends and move on, or agree to disagree and move on. but when it’s just an anonymous profile on a screen, it’s difficult to do this. and usually, i ignore them – sure, we all have a good giggle and the self-righteous rantings when the reviews are bad, and we always remember things differently (like the table who ordered the wrong things, then demanded we do them differently, then tipped the salt from the salt cellars all over the table in some kind of pathetic protest, for example, and then claimed that they were badly treated. oh, how we laughed!). but for some reason your review has niggled me. i don’t want to respond on trip advisor (so many reasons not to) but i wanted to respond anyway. ii doubt you’ll see it, but straightforward debate doesn’t seem to be your style anyway.

so let’s have a look at your complaint shall we. firstly, i’m glad you like the beer we serve. exit 33 are an excellent brewery, making some fantastic beers, and we’re proud to have them on the bar, along with a selection of guest beers, lagers, many many ciders, bottles, and many many spirits. you may have noticed that at the top of my review, i’ve given you an overall rating of 2 stars (out of a possible 5) – i should mention in the interests of fairness that the brewer from exit 33 wanted to upgrade you to 5 stars. biased sonofabitch. actually, that’s not fair – i’d probably only have given you a 1 star rating if you hadn’t once commented how much you liked my doc martens, but i’m shallow, so that has counted in your favour. well done :)

apparently you find the pub “dingy” though, due to that “strange decision to put little porch roofs over the front windows”. i’m guessing you’re not a smoker, and i’m also guessing that you don’t catch the bus, so you’re probably not in the market for a place that allows you to stand outside and have your cigarette, or watch for your bus coming to the stop bang opposite the front door, whilst also affording you a bit of shelter from the rain/snow/wind/hail/sunshine? i’m not a smoker either, and i don’t catch the bus, but many of our customers do, so we like to look after them during the very frequent rainstorms we get around here. we even get non-customers who are tired of being battered by the rain at the bus stop across the road, and we’re happy for them to stand under these too. it is fairly grim up north after all. and there is the massive window on the side of the pub that is completely unfettered by weird little porch things, and lets plenty of light in. but never mind that, hey. i guess mentioning that spoils your narrative somewhat, and as every good journalist knows you shouldn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

so we do “reasonable” food too? see, i knew you’d been here before, you’ve eaten here loads, and always been very complimentary. in fact i’m fairly certain you ate here twice in one day once. and yet … i notice that you never took to your keyboard on any of those occasions to tell the world what you thought? why ever not? and why did you find it appropriate to do so this time?

ah, here we go. we do indeed stop serving food at 2 o’clock during the week. and if i remember correctly (which i do, because the radio was on in the kitchen playing the archers – god, i bloody love the archers) you turned up some time after 2 o’clock, and were told by a member of staff that the kitchen was closed. i wasn’t actually in the kitchen that day, but i could hear the radio from where i was stood next to the till. so i think you’re a little confused about the time you got here. but heck, i guess you’re human. and i’m glad that you got to try somewhere else where food was served all day, and that that was more to your tastes.

anyway, you slammed the door with its “cracked window pane” (god only knows how bits of glass get broken, hey!) on your way out and then stewed on things before taking to your keyboard. and that’s when things turned nasty. because the last paragraph of your review is complete and utter bollocks. the place is not in anyway dirty or unkempt. i clean the pub myself 3 days a week, and we have a team of cleaners in for the remaining 4 days. the tables are cleaned every single morning; every single time someone leaves a table; and every single night. the window ledges inside are cleaned every day, the toilets are cleaned at least once every day. the floors are mopped at least twice a day, the bar is wiped twice a day, and every single piece of serving and beer dispense equipment is cleaned thoroughly as soon as it needs doing. our lines are clean, our cellar is clean, our kitchen is clean (have i mentioned that the FSA rate us as 5 stars for cleanliness?). and the “dirty sticky brasswork”? i don’t know if you’re familiar with cleaning a bar rail, but let me enlighten you: you clean it, make it all nice and shiny, and then people come in and put their hands on it, they lean on it, and they rest their bags on it. they spill drinks on it. they drop their food on it (those “fat burgers and fat chips at an OK price” that we serve, that you’ve always been happy to eat in the past) and – lo and behold! – it starts to look sticky quite quickly. and given that you turned up after a busy friday dinner, there was plenty of stickyness around. had you come in later that afternoon, you’d have found that the bar would have been all shined and pretty again, ready for the relentless onslaught of friday night revellers and more stickiness! and then we’ll start again the next day.

moving on with your complaint: yes, our staff are a nice bunch, aren’t they?; they’re ace. and i’ll let you into a secret shall i? i value them higher than anything in this business. on the days when i do the kitchen myself and someone walks in after the kitchen in closed, i’ll almost always offer to make something. i’m here all day, after all, so it doesn’t bother me one little bit if i’m still cooking 30 minutes after the kitchen has closed. but would i expect a member of bar staff to serve you when the bar is closed? or would i expect one of our chefs to serve you after our kitchen is closed? would i hell as like. because once the kitchen is closed, the big clean down begins (yes, more cleaning!). by the time you turned up on that fateful friday afternoon, the kitchen was mid-clean down. so say you wanted to order something cooked, that would be an extra 30 minutes added on to someone else’s kitchen shift – those pans that had just been cleaned would have to be dirtied again, then cleaned again; the hob would have to be wiped down again; the sides would have to be wiped down again; the plates would have to be cleaned again – i’m sure you’re getting the picture here, you seem like a bright chap! and then we’d be running late with prep for the evening shift, so someone might not end up getting their break, or they might end up rushing around to try and get everything completed in time, and feeling stressed. you mentioned that you’d been “delayed at work” that day – and boy, that seems to have affected your mood. i wouldn’t want to put my staff in that position. maybe you should have a word with your clients, or your boss, or your colleagues about the pressure they’re putting you under at work? maybe that’s why you were having a bad day. like i say, if i can avoid putting my staff in that position, i will.

anyway, that said, please feel free to ask any of this “good bunch” whether they feel they have been “left adrift” by “slack management”. as wonderful as they are, they do occasionally make such monumental fuck ups that they get shouted at, told off, patronised, and written lists of things to fucking well do sharpish before they get murdered by me in cold blood. but you know what, they’re human. and if they occasionally “spend their time hanging around the bar chatting” then where’s the harm? god forbid, they should be able to relax or enjoy themselves at work; why on earth should bar staff be allowed to chat amongst themselves, or to customers, rather than following everyone around with a cloth and a coaster. i mean, we couldn’t possibly be running a pub for humans instead of an ideal home exhibition stand, could we? i do hope you’re not one of these people who think that those of us who work in hospitality should obey every command, no matter how ridiculous.

so, we must try harder must we? well, at some point in my “slack” week (which averages out at 85 hours work per week – yes, some of that involves hanging around the bar chatting, admittedly – *slaps self on wrist for not being an automaton*) i shall have a look at what else we can do to improve.

thanks for visiting! your overall rating is displayed below. you will, of course, be welcome back in the pub at any time you’d like, although you sound like you’ve moved on. if you do come back, i hope you find the same friendly welcome from all the staff (this “slack” landlady will certainly be willing to welcome you back in with a smile). oh, and do mind the front door will you – we keep trying to clean it but people keep sodding walking through it, and putting their hands on it, and sometimes they’re not clean.

lots of love, the slack management

your personalised rating from the harlequin:

written communication skills – 1 out of 5 stars

spoken communication skills – 2 out of 5 stars

appreciation of quality beer – 5 out of 5 stars

ability to separate fact from fiction – 0 out of 5 stars


12 thoughts on “

  1. I have absolutely no idea what this e-mail is about. I love your pub but not sure about coming back as I am being accused of things that I have no knowledge of. Please could you clarify what you are saying and why.
    Thanks Paul.

    1. ummm…if you have no idea what it’s about, then you’re probably not being accused of anything :) glad you love the pub, please come back as and when you like (as long as we’re open of course) x

    2. just re-read your comment – this wasn’t an e-mail directed at anyone in particular. someone left us a very inaccurate review on trip advisor, so it was an open response to that, and a set of thoughts about trip advisor type reviews in general. hope that clarifies things. if you got an e-mail, i’m guessing you got an alert telling you something had been published. it certainly wasn’t personal :) xxx

  2. I’ve been to your delightful pub many many times, also enjoyed your Absinthe specialty night. The drink selection has always been of an excellent standard and choice. The staff have always been very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. I have had the pleasure in eating your food on loads of occasions and never been disappointed. I have brought friends and family in to appreciate your fried bacon & cheese sandwiches, no one I know has ever been anything other than highly delighted with their choice of food.

    I understand people can have a bad day, but to take it out on you guys just isn’t acceptable, if there was a problem, which I doubt I’m sure would have been successfully dealt with if the staff are given the opportunity.

    I would always rate your delightful pub 10/10. Please do not change anything, as the old saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

  3. This is one of the best replies to a review I’ve read and it has been nice to have a good giggle whilst doing many of the same jobs myself! I sympathise completely! Some customers don’t have a clue, especially regarding behind the scenes. And your roast dinners are lovely, we had one last Sunday!

  4. Glad i read all the way to the end…. This was my favourite bit…. “running a pub for humans instead of an ideal home exhibition stand”

    Great pub. Great response

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