National Hospitality Day: Micropub backing 'brilliant initiative'
- Credit: Alison Taffs
It's no secret that the hospitality industry has been among the sectors most ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
So for National Hospitality Day on September 18, the whole community is being urged to support their local venues in recognition of that hardship.
The chance to celebrate this vital industry has the backing of Alison Taffs, joint-owner of The Hop Inn in Hornchurch.
As she explained to the Recorder, her support goes beyond the professional: "I've worked closely with one of the designated charities, Springboard, so I know how important their work is.
“For me, this initiative is a brilliant idea; people know how hard hospitality has been hit, so it’s great that we’re encouraging people to get back into venues now."
Springboard works to inspire young people into careers in hospitality, and together with The Drinks Trust, LTC and Hospitality Action, will benefit from proceeds raised on the day.
It's a day Alison is looking forward to as her business - which she co-owns with partner Phil Cooke - continues to bounce back from the pandemic.
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The Hop Inn has already made a sizeable splash since opening in December 2019, and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) recently declared it regional pub of the year.
With an award presentation to come in a few weeks, there's plenty of room for optimism at the Hornchurch micropub.
Alison said morale never dipped too low - despite the emergence of a global pandemic mere months after opening.
She credits this to the popularity of the takeaway and delivery service from the inn during lockdown, supported by the Hornchurch community.
"They kept us going," she said.
"I think we benefitted from the fact that we had a really strong opening in December. I thought we’d build up slowly, but we were so much busier than I could have anticipated.
"But it shows there was an appetite for it. That lockdown period actually strengthened our relationship with our regulars."
Operating at around 95 per cent table service, Alison believes it is a "pub, but with restaurant-quality service”.
Beyond having a loyal customer base, co-owning a small business afforded Alison and Phil the "agility" to make quick decisions in an ever-changing situation.
Now all but out the other side, the pair are eagerly awaiting September 18.
There will be a number of initiatives at The Hop Inn on the day, including encouraging customers toward a select set of beers and ciders.
Not only will the profits from those sales go toward four worthy causes, but it also presents a chance for the micropub's suppliers to shine.
Alison is proud of those ties: "We have a close relationship with our small-scale suppliers and love working with them – there's a real value in knowing where the money is going."
Determined to show customers where their drinks are coming from, Alison has been known to introduce brewers to patrons when they're dropping off deliveries.
This personal touch adds to the authenticity she and Phil consider crucial to what they do.
A trained performer, Alison began her career at the nearby Queen's Theatre.
Now she runs a venue "just down the road”, and gets to live and breathe an industry that brings her joy.
Asked to explain her passion for the sector, she said: "Hospitality is for everyone; you don’t need a school tie or to know the right people.
"It also teaches the importance of teamwork and camaraderie in a way few other industries do."
To learn more about what's driving this day, visit nationalhospitalityday.org.uk/about-the-day/