Jon and Lizzie Cooke realised their dream when they were handed the keys to the Rose and Crown in Ware, in July 2008. Up to that point, they had never even pulled a pint!
Jon had previously run his own company, and Lizzie worked in finance. "We have always wanted our own pub" explains Jon. "We were at a stage in our lives where we wanted a change, and so started thinking about taking a pub".
A friend recommended McMullen to the couple, so they went onto the website initially to see what the application process was, and what pubs were available. They rang McMullen's Tenancy Operations Manager Graham Rollings, and arranged an initial meeting. The couple knew they wanted a pub with a garden, and one of the pubs Graham recommended was the Rose and Crown.
"We knew it was right for us the moment we walked in the door" says Lizzie. "It is a one bar operation, which as first time licensees means we were not overwhelmed by the scale of the opportunity. It is at the heart of the local community, and everyone we met that first time we looked around was really friendly. It just felt right."
Jon and Lizzie advised Graham it was the pub they wanted, and quickly moved ahead with obtaining their Personal Licence - a mandatory requirement of you want to run your own pub. It only took them a couple of weeks to complete the course, pass the exam and receive their licence.
"We were still tight on time" says Jon. "The outgoing licensees were ready to move on, but we still needed to rent out our house in Harrow and resign from our jobs. Luckily we found a tenant for the house really quickly, so we were ready to make the move within 6 weeks."
The week before they moved in, Jon and Lizzie had some training on cellar management, the kitchen equipment and running the pub generally. "That was really useful" says Lizzie. "They knew we were first timers, and were very helpful."
So then, on the 14th July, they moved in. "It was hectic!" says Jon. "WE were please to see Fergus McMullen on the to offer advice and to ensure everything was running smoothly."
Since then, "Graham pops in every few weeks to see how we are, and the support we get when we ring the brewery for anything is excellent. Nothing is too much trouble."
The couple have integrated themselves into their local community really quickly. "We buy all of our meat from the local butcher and our fresh produce from the local greengrocer" says Jon. "It's a small community and it is only right that we support local traders as they support us."
So would they recommend taking on a McMullen tenancy? "Yes, without a doubt" says Jon. "We have absolutely no regrets about our decision to run this pub, and actually, in hindsight we should have done it years ago!"
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