Dal and Corinne Gill

Why Creativity is Essential to Run a Pub

The kind of person who runs their own pub has a few key characteristics in common. One of them is creativity. A great pub tenant is positively buzzing with ideas—short, medium and long-term alike. That’s why so many publicans come from careers that are creative at their core. But how does the ability to think creatively impact on the success of a pub? Let’s take a look.


Creative menu planning
Creative events planning
Creative staffing
Creative customer service

Creative menu planning

Whether you’re running a wet-led (mainly drinks) or dry-led (mainly food) pub, it’s important to develop an imaginative menu. Tantalising your guests’ taste buds with different flavours is a great way to get them pouring into your pub.

Publicans operating with a Marston’s Pillar Partnership, for instance, have loads of freedom to develop their own food offering and this is where they can really stand out in their local hospitality market. Rather than plain old fish and chips, they’re more likely to offer beer-battered hake and twice-fried, chunky, skin-on chips with minted mushy peas.

And, as you can see, it’s as much in the description as it is in the cooking. So, yes, getting creative with language really makes a difference too.

When it comes to the drinks menu, the best publicans will not only get to know their guests’ favourite tipples, they’ll also work out which alternative selections would surprise and delight them. With a broad, inventive choice of drinks available, skilled publicans keep things interesting and encourage return visits.

Creative events planning

Coming up with ingenious ideas for events in your pub means going beyond the tried and tested. Creative publicans won’t just settle for a weekly quiz night and an open mic night. They’ll talk to their guests, find out what kinds of things are likely to get them out of the house and then come up with great event ideas to entice them to the pub.

We know, from seeing Marston’s Pillar Partners in action, that there are all kinds of possibilities to create memorable pub experiences. Maybe it’s running a farmer’s market in the car park. Perhaps it’s hosting a vinyl record fair or vintage clothing market in the back room. Or it could even be working with local live music promoters to run gigs.

One thing is for sure—if it plays to the tastes of local people, a great publican will follow through on an event idea and make a success of it.

Creative staffing

Successful publicans are shrewd judges of people. They know “spark” when they see it and are keen to nurture and develop it in their people.

When a Chef comes to an interview with ideas for dishes they’ve never heard of, for instance, the creative publican will be excited to taste them and try them. They won’t suppress other people’s good ideas—they’ll welcome them and be open to hearing them out.

It’s the kind of resourceful leadership we see every day, here at Marston’s. Our Pillar Partners are as excited to delegate duties to their ingenious teams as they are to coming up with their own ideas. So, they hire people who are naturally inclined to go above and beyond.

Creative customer service

The most obvious skill of a great publican is their ability to deliver creative guest service. After all, they spend most of their days delivering it. It means going beyond the usual pleases-and-thank-yous of customer interaction and really connecting with the local community.

A creative publican will be aware of their regulars’ personal milestones—their kids’ graduations, their job promotions and their big birthdays—so they can celebrate them. They’ll be out there arranging sponsored hikes and cake bakes to raise money for local charities. They’ll even call their more senior guests on the phone over winter, if they haven’t seen them for a while, to check in and ask if they need anything.

Why? Simply because it makes a difference. It feels good to make other people feel good—and coming up with creative ways of doing that is what satisfies a good publican. Not to mention the fact it makes your pub stand out from the competition. It keeps guests coming through the door and makes for a warm, friendly, feelgood environment. That’s the value of creativity .

Looking for something else to read? Find out What Makes Publicans the Hardest Working People in Hospitality?

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