Two decades ago, Brian Rigby was an injured ex-coal miner with a compensation cheque burning a hole in his pocket and a heady plan to travel the world.
His bags were packed. Everything was ready. He had a farewell party at his local the night before he was due to travel. It was the night when Brian’s best laid plans changed.
“The landlord was a bit short staffed, so I helped him out. I collected the glasses, pulled a few pints, spoke to the customers.”
It was good, he says. He enjoyed it. At the end of the evening, the landlord offered him a job. ‘I can’t,’ he said. ‘I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m going round the world’.”
Brian went home that night and couldn’t sleep. He wasn’t dreaming about travelling the world. He was imagining a new life behind the bar. “I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d give it a try. I can always travel the world another day, I said to myself.”
Today, a good 25 years on, Brian is still waiting to travel the world. In that time, he’s taken the reins at more than 20 pubs across the East Midlands and has forged a successful career.
“What I try to do is bring all the things I’ve learned in a lifetime of working in pubs in to each place I run,” he says.
“Each pub is different. You shouldn’t try to take away the individuality of a pub. You need to enhance that and build on it - not wipe it out.”
Every pub has a personality, he says. A good brewery recognises that and encourages it. The last thing they should do is suffocate it.