However, on the day of signing Sue’s partners both pulled out.
Sue was devastated; “I then had to make a big decision and as a village person it was very important to me not to lose the pub. All the villagers were behind me and Everards had been great, so I went for it. My husband is a builder and I am a hairdresser. We both still need to work, so we carried on doing our jobs full time, whilst learning how to run a pub!”
“We did what we could ourselves in-between our jobs, but we had to get staff in. It wasn’t financially viable for us to quit our day jobs, and it soon became clear that for this pub to push forward and grow it needed a manager, someone to be around for customers daily and be the face of the business when we couldn’t. I work the pub around my hairdressing shifts and my husband works in the week on-site and then in the pub all weekend. The pub has grown so much, and we’ve got a fantastic chef and team now, so it is going from strength to strength. We have a great community and we put on lots of events. When we run charity nights, we raise a hell of a lot of money for such a tiny village.“ says Sue.
The pub is famous for its Onion Sunday competition where they raise thousands and thousands for charity through the growing of onions within the community. Last year the ladies of Illston created a calendar and have so far raised around £6,000 for charity.
Although not the way Sue had planned, the pub now attracts many visitors from far and wide and is building on their positive reputation every day.
“It’s hard doing it the way we have to” says Sue, “it’s not the way we planned. The pub is busy and lively now though and that’s so nice to see as that’s why we took it on, we wanted to see our village pub thrive and be more. We wanted to see that heart and soul come alive, which is what we have managed to do and are really proud of what we have achieved so far”.
“We will continue to work crazy hours as we love our jobs” says Sue, “I love hairdressing and my husband loves building eco houses. This pub isn’t a normal pub, it’s such a fabulous building full of character, quirk, history and heart and the village needs it. “
So, Sue manages to run this beautiful pub with the help of a great team. The fact she can work it around her clients with support from her husband at the weekends is highly commendable, as running a pub 24/7 is hard enough, but doing that whilst still doing a full-time job is challenging for anyone.
“The brewery is great and are always there to support us when we need them. The telesales team are great and always help with any product recommendations when we need them, like what new gins are in and provide an interesting range of beers for us to choose from”
“I’m a hairdresser so I love the social side of the pub, I love people and the banter, and it makes me happy being here. Now I get to do both, and I won’t lie, that can be hard and tiring at times, but I love this pub and the people in the village and I really do enjoy it.” says Sue.
"I used to be a hairdresser, now I get to style my business around my life." Sue,
Fox and Goose, Illston