Next up in our Meet the Publican series is Matt from Northbar, A bar which I first encountered on the Sunday after Twissup, where their hunk of bread and cheese helped line our stomach’s for the day ahead. So over to Mat for more info.
What is the name of your pub and where is it?
North Bar & Further North, Leeds
What sort of community/clientel does your pub serve?
Whilst North is essentially a city centre bar it serves a wide cross section of the community which ranges from students to ale boffins, German lager drinkers to Gueuze quaffers, fans of all types of beer from around the globe as well as ecelectic music lovers and people with a fondness for top class spirits or cheeses!
What made you want to become a publican?
The oportunity to work in the most interesting and challenging bar around!
How long have you been a publican?
I’ve worked in pubs on and off for 12 years, I’ve managed for 3 years or so…
What facilities does your pub have?
Lots and lots of beer, good music and food.
We also do a parcel holding service which means that you can have a parcel delivered to the bar and avoid having to go to the sorting office if you
don’t live near one.
You can book in your round for the interval if you’re going to the theatre so you won’t have to wait.
Community noticeboard, quiz, air con, toilets!
What makes your pub different?
North has been instumental in introducing brands like Erdinger, Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn Lager to the UK. We sell nothing produced under license and everything is brewed in the country of origin. Over a typical year north sells around 600+ different beers. The range at any one time is around 100-140.
However North is not just a beer bar, we apply the same philosophy to sprits and have an excellent selection and top flight pouring brands. The
same goes for soft drinks and food!
As such the investment in staff training is extremely important and the staff are extremely knowledgable and should be able to guide everyone to
something new and interesting from the novice to the expert!
We also make sure that we are at the forefront in terms of music and you will hear a much wider variety of music at North than anywhere else in town.
We also take care to avoid generic ‘bar tunes’ that you might hear in other more lazy places!
Do you do accommodation?
What challenges have you faced as a publican?
The main issues at the moment stem from high taxes on alcohol and exchange rate issues which meant lots price hikes about a year ago. We need to keep the level of service high to justify that but the government could give us a break too.
We also need to fight hard for lower prices for our customers from suppliers which we do but they’ve still got to make a crust too! True independent bars have to compete with big companies like Mitchells and Butlers and Wetherspoons who can change much less as well as supermarkets whose effect on the industry has been widely documented!
Where do you think the future of local pubs lies?
Service and community are the future of local pubs, product needs to be the best it can be but if the staff are indifferent, poorly trained, arrogant or rude you’ll get nowhere.
Alcohol has been undermined by the medical/puritanical lobby. It’s not like smoking as it is an important social lubricant and is enjoyed sensibly by people from all walks of life. Responsible bars and pubs should be held up as an example to others and responsible bar keeping should be incentivised in the tax system.
Pubs and bars should focus on their customers and provide a focal point for communities. Pubs have traditionally done this and it has been either forgotten or treated cynically by the big national companies.
Any exciting plans for the future?
Always! We try to keep everything fresh and we are extending the selection available on draught to 16 lines! We are also making sure we have our fingers on the pulse of all the new developments in beer, you’ll always get somethiong special at North.
Would you recommend the job to someone else? if so what words of wisdom would you give them?
It’s a great job if you’re working for a forward thinking company who don’t tie you down to cheap readily available poorly produced brands.
Look after your staff and your customers and make people feel part of whatyou do.
What is your perfect pub?
Somewhere with really lovely engageing staff and good beer.
Anything else you want to tell us?
The now legendary NORTH BAR BELGIAN BEER FESTIVAL 120+ Belgian ales!!! April 1st-15th, 16th- 24th at Further North!
Does your pub have a website? facebook? twitter?
And there you have it, all you need to know about North Bar in Leeds, thanks to Matt for filing our our questions, if you are a publican and would like to take part then please let us know.