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Everards treated my mum so well, they were always well thought of and talked about in the pub and community, so we didn’t question who else to take a pub with. I was lucky, I knew first-hand the support Everards provided and that sense of family and belonging my mum had when she had a pub with them,” says Debbie. “Although I’d lived and worked in a pub for a lot of my life, there were still so many things that myself and Darren had to learn and quickly!”

The pair opted in for a ‘try before you buy’ weekend, where you spend a few days working in an Everards pub with experienced business owners to see what it is truly like to run your own pub. Debbie and Darren did their try before you buy at the Winstanley Arms in Braunstone; “It’s a brilliant idea” said Darren, “Lee and Kate were amazing and showed us the ropes and really helped open our eyes to what we were getting ourselves into. We did everything from the books to the barrels and everything in between”.

“You will learn as you go along, and you will keep on learning in this trade,” says Darren. “Our BDM from Everards, Martin, is great. At first we were constantly on the phone to him and he always helped us out, he never got annoyed with all our questions and we had lots! Even now, he’s our first point of call. Everyone at Everards has been brilliant; they always want to help us and go above and beyond to do so.“ says Darren.

Darren and Debbie came into the pub, which is known for being a sports pub, the day Leicester City took on Man United the year they won the league. “That was a crazy busy first night. Boy, we didn’t know what had hit us!” says Darren, “and to be honest, we weren’t ready for it, we only had one till and we ran out of beer, so not the best start and I’m sure we lost a few customers that night, but we got through it and we learnt from it.”

“We have also learnt you need to get your staff right; it’s the staff that make it all work.” says Debbie, “We invest a lot of time in our staff, it takes a whole team to run a pub - it’s not just us here. Alex who is part of our bar team is currently doing a bar and hospitality apprenticeship and we are helping her get something out of her time here with us.”

When we asked Darren and Debbie what made Everards different and what they would share with others looking to take on a pub with Everards, Darren said: “The support. Especially when you really need it in that first year. They have a closed Facebook group which is great, to know there is a space to chat to all the other Everards business owners and ask questions, get recommendations and just knowing there are people there at any hour of the day just to run things by or help you out is invaluable.”

We’ve made some amazing friends since we’ve been here said Darren; “I chatted to a guy who came in on his own one afternoon, I always make a point of chatting to new faces and introducing myself and we got talking. We got on so well, he invited us over to Ireland with his family, we’ve just come back from a long weekend over there and do you know what? We had a great time! For us, it really is that people aspect of pub life that we love and getting to know everyone that walks through the door, that makes this all so enjoyable.

We absolutely love the pub life, the grandkids love it and it gives us the flexibility to help out with school runs and anything else that pops up when you have two kids and five grandchildren! We’ve made this pub our home, and it really is a lifestyle choice. If you get the right staff, you can sit with your friends of an evening and have a pint and you can enjoy the social aspect and the people side which is where our passion lies. “

“I laugh every day.” says Debbie, “there’s not an hour that goes by that I’m not laughing with someone. I’m still smiling after a year and a half. It’s not an easy job, it’s tiring more than anything else, you are looking at 90 plus hours a week, and all the behind the scenes things that people don’t see, like the food prep, the paperwork, ordering, cleaning, wages, pensions, quality control, health and safety etc. But I love it! We’ve just made it part of our lives and it all works together because we have a great team and amazing customers that we love being around.”

Debbie and Darren love their pub, their customers and everything about their new career choice it’s clear to see it when sat chatting with them; although realistic and honest, they didn’t stop smiling and laughing as they told us pub stories and all about their journey.

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