Drinks on a bar

4 Former Professionals Who Reinvented Themselves as Publicans

Developing a career within a specialist field offers a rewarding, satisfying life for highly driven people who thrive on achievement. Nevertheless, there comes a point during the careers of many, where they stop, look back and take stock of their achievements, goals, needs and desires in life and think to themselves, ‘I need to stop what I’m doing and run my own pub.’

Are such people driven by the autonomy that comes with self-employment—the freedom to escape from an employer’s restrictive rules and regulations? Or is it the social aspect of being a key figure at the heart of the community—a more wholesome existence, providing people with experiences that brighten their lives? We talked to four of Marston’s newest self-employed Pillar Partners to find out what made them change career to run their own pubs.

From assistant headteachers to pub partners

Dal and Corinne GillCorinne & Dal Gill had climbed the teaching ladder to the point at which they both occupied assistant headteacher posts. Yet the married couple found themselves contemplating an alternative way of making a living. Corinne says they, “reflected a lot,” as a result of changes in the education sector that meant they, “weren’t getting the same job satisfaction” as when they both began their careers.

They tried running their own street food business in a shipping container outside a snooker hall—just to test the water—while continuing to work in their full-time roles. They loved the feeling it gave them so much that they decided to pursue a career in hospitality full-time and, in October 2021, signed a Pillar Partnership with Marston’s, taking on The Cricketts Inn, in Acresford, South Derbyshire.

“We liked that there was autonomy over the food side of it,” says Corinne of the agreement. “We’re too maverick and pedantic about dining to have the food we serve dictated to us.” Now, the pub serves up some of the most adventurous, hearty food you’re likely to find in the UK—pheasant and partridge pie with suet pudding and black cherry and bacon gravy, anyone?

To read more about Corinne & Dal’s journey, click here.

From IT & business consultant to pub partner

Outside view of The Swan pub at DobcrossThe Tavern pub in Denstone village—a civil parish of Uttoxeter—once played host to an 18-year-old named Max Lloyd having his first pint. Max went on to manage the pub the same year before going off to develop a career as an IT & business consultant. Yet, even while he progressed in his new career, he couldn’t let go of the idea of one day running his beloved village pub as a self-employed publican. So that’s what he came back and did.

Close connections are a key part of Max’s relationship to the Tavern. Not only did he work there as a lad, he also hired his best friend from the age of 11 to be the chef there. “His Sunday dinners are absolutely blindin’,” he says proudly of his pal and now employee. What’s more, his former employer (and father-in-law) was so confident in Max’s ability to make a success of The Tavern, that he was the one who put up the money for Max to begin his Marston’s Pillar Partnership.

“I think, especially for a country pub like this,” says Max, “you have to be able to support local producers.” That was a key attractor for him in taking on the Pillar Partnership, that allows him to develop his own menu without ties to Marston’s food products. And the new menu has brought customers, old and new, flooding into the pub. “There are people who’ve come in and I thought they’d moved away,” says Max. “But we made it feel like their beloved country pub again and they’ve come back.”

To read more about Max’s journey, click here.

From wealth manager to Marston’s publican

Sharon from The Swan pub at DobcrossYou might think a wealth manager would be the last person to pack in a highly lucrative and successful career advising people on financial risk to quit, register as self-employed and take on their own pub during a global pandemic. But that’s exactly what Sharon Musgrove did when she took on The Swan at Dobcross in rural Saddleworth.

“I [had] started to wonder if I could do something else that would be more satisfying, wholesome and fulfilling,” she tells us. “Yet [that would] still be a successful business.” The Swan was appealing to Sharon because it was her beloved local pub and had developed a name for its 60-seat upstairs theatre, which attracted touring companies from all over the UK. “There’s so much you can do with that room,” she says. “…Putting on entertainment up there is high on my agenda.”

That’s another benefit of the Marston’s Pillar Partnership. Whilst the initial investment is relatively low, Sharon still enjoys the freedom to curate her own events calendar, which would normally only be part of a much more costly pub agreement. The pub is, as with other Pillar pubs, also offering a bespoke menu of The Swan’s chef’s own creations.

To read more about Sharon’s journey, click here.

From hospitality manager to self-employed publican

Andrew from The Bridge in Ashbourne, DerbyshireNot satisfied with a career working for other people, hospitality manager Andrew Ward had long dreamed of taking on a pub of his own. Finances and the types of agreement previously available to him, however, had stopped him moving forward. Until he got the chance to take on The Bridge in Ashbourne, Derbyshire as a Marston’s Pillar Partner.

“I’d looked at other agreements,” he says. “But the entry costs had been too high… When the Pillar Partnership was announced, though, I looked into it, realised I’d get a great percentage of the profits and that the entry costs would be lower… So I went for it.”

Now Andrew’s running a celebrated pub of his own and getting great online reviews from his guests. The food is all freshly sourced from the local area, the chef is “absolutely superb”, he tells us. Plus, Andrew’s workaholic nature is suited to the non-stop pace of running his own business. “My family tell me I work too hard and need to take a day off but that’s not who I am. Everything in my life today has brought me to this moment and it’s a big thing for me… That’s what I’ve always wanted.”

To find out more about Andrew’s journey, click here.

To find out more about a Marston’s Pillar Partnership and how you could take on a pub of your own, click here.

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