It’s not cricket but Broad and Gurney have a new Wymeswold partnership, The Three Crowns.
Last summer, Dan Cramp, assisted by his two business partners, finally realised his dream of opening his own pub, The Three Crowns, in the idyllic Leicestershire village of Wymeswold.
Passing through a British village and spying the village boozer is one of the most reassuring feelings you can experience. The village pub is steeped in British folklore. And they are as relevant today as they were 100, 200, even 500 years ago. A 2014 study conducted by Newcastle Business School found that rural areas that possessed a pub had a greater degree of social cohesion – community in other words – than those villages where the pubs had all closed.
Last summer, Dan Cramp, assisted by his two business partners, finally realised his dream of opening his own pub, The Three Crowns, in the idyllic Leicestershire village of Wymeswold. A veteran of the pub trade in the East Midlands, Cramp’s most recent gig had been running the award-winning Larwood & Voce pub in Nottingham. The pub backed onto Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club’s Trent Bridge ground and was also handily situated next to Nottingham Forest’s City Ground.
It was while working at the Larwood that he became friendly with his two business partners, the cricketers Stuart Broad and Harry Gurney. Both were looking at opening a pub, and soon a triumvirate was formed. After The Three Crown’s successful opening the trio have since established a company, The Cat and Wickets Pub Company (“The boys bring the wickets and I’ve brought along the cat,” jokes Cramp), and they are actively looking at opening another four or five pubs in the coming years.
The key to The Three Crowns resurgence is simple. Ensuring that the pub is at the heart of village life, thereby giving everyone in the Wymeswold – and beyond – a reason to visit. That and the attraction of Gurney and the perpetual thorn in every Australian batsman’s side, Broad.
“STUART AND HARRY WILL OFTEN BE IN HERE PULLING PINTS. I CAN’T GET RID OF THEM. THEY’RE TOO TALL THOUGH. THEY KEEP BANGING THEIR HEADS”
“Stuart and Harry will often be in here pulling pints,” smiles Cramp. “I can’t get rid of them. They’re too tall though. They keep banging their heads. But listen, I don’t tell them how to bowl and they don’t tell me how to pull a pint. They’re in regularly. Stuart was in the other night making cocktails. It’s quite cool for people to come in and see.”
We closed the pub for six weeks.
We did the refurb, gave it a lick of paint and tidied her up. Just simple things. New glass wash, new ice machine, improved the cellar, improved the product range and sorted out the kitchen as much as we could. It’s very limited with what we can and can’t do out of that kitchen. The boys are unbelievable. We got very lucky. We waited for a couple of great chefs who were leaving positions they were in.
There used to be seven pubs in the village.
It is a small village so I’m not sure how that worked. There’s probably only a 1,000 houses. We’re down to three pubs now. One’s very gastro; very top-end gastropub food. One’s more of a restaurant; very fine-dining, so you wouldn’t necessarily go there for a pint.
“A NICE VILLAGE PUB WHERE YOU CAN HAVE A DRINK BUT YOU CAN ALSO HAVE SOME GOOD PUB GRUB AS WELL”
We kept this as the village boozer.
A nice village pub where you can have a drink but you can also have some good pub grub as well. The sports on in the background, the newspapers are here, there’s some nice real ales. So the three pubs all work alongside each other. We’ve all got our market.
It’s a destination village.
People come from all around. They park up. Have a wander around. Maybe have some lunch in ours and a drink in another. Or vice versa. The lads are here quite a lot. Harry lives in the village. He’s literally three doors down. And Stuart, who loves his food and wine, is often in and out when he’s not travelling with England We had Olly Smith, who does a wine column in the Mail on Sunday, in here recently to record his podcast.
Some of the England selectors have been down here.
They’ve had lunch and had meetings here. The Notts lads have all been down. So, yeah, it’s nice to have them boys as a connection. It’s a big cricketing village. It’s great for the local cricketers to see those lads in here.
“WE INTRODUCED THE SPORT AND THAT HAS REALLY HELPED”
We introduced the sport and that has really helped.
It’s a big Leicester Tigers community around here. A lot of rugby fans. So that has helped.
Getting the sport in was a no brainer.
We felt we had to have it because of the connection with Stuart and Harry. If people were going to come from these cricket clubs and sporting clubs you half expect it to show sport. We went about it in the right way. We didn’t want it to be intrusive. We didn’t want it to be loud. We wanted to section it off if we could. So we’ve got three screens – four with the big screen upstairs – each one can show something different, so there’s options. So we can have Leicester Tigers on in the bar, and a football match on in the corner and in the back bar we could have something else on.
We have the commentary at a level where it’s not upsetting diners, or it’s not causing rowdiness.
It’s subtle. And it works. It’s on in the background almost. If no-one asks for the commentary it’s just pictures. If someone asks for a game to be shown we generally show it. The Tigers nights have been superb. We had a group of lads who rented the room upstairs, so they all came in and had a pie and a pint and they can get as rowdy as they like. There’s just so much fantastic sport on we just felt we had to show it. It’s non-stop. It’s worked really well.
We have the blackboards promoting what’s on in the week.
They’ve been fun. We try to make them quirky. We’ve been writing the Champions instead of Leicester City when they’ve been playing. Then the Twitter banter starts. The social media side of things has been phenomenal marketing and PR for us.
We stayed open for the Super Bowl.
We stayed open for the last night of the Masters. It’s a nice mix.
It’s all about the community.
You’ve almost got to be that melting pot where everyone can come in. You can be serving everyone from the students that are coming back home to the local farmers to workmen who are passing through to the chap who lives down the road who walks his dog every night. You have got to be multi-faceted. You have to have a really good offering.
sometimes, all you need, is a pub classic… pic.twitter.com/dHvWMyBPr1
— Cat & Wickets Pub Co (@catandwickets) May 6, 2017
Keep it clean. Keep it simple. Keep it classic.
Make the food offering good but not overpriced. You want people to nip out and have a pie and chips or fish and chips. We’re not massively gastro. It’s good solid pub grub. We have to get our pricing right. Often you’ll go to pubs and the mains are £14, £15, even £16. We wanted to keep it around the £10-£11 mark and we’ve done that and it’s a testament to the lads in the kitchen. The chefs are superb.
We’ve covered all bases.
We’ve got a lovely outside for the summer, when it comes. That was a lot of our investment actually, because it was effectively just a couple of picnic tables in a car park. If we cop for a good summer it will have been a good investment because we do like to sit outside.
It’s all about keeping your eye on the ball.
We still like to go to the pub. It’s our culture. Whether it’s the end of the working week, a celebration or a commiseration…we do still like go to the village pub. Yes, you still hear the horror stories about the number of pubs closing every week. But there are still many that get it right. It’s in our culture, isn’t it? We don’t always have the weather to go to the beach or sit around outside, so our life is about going to the pub.
The biggest reward for us has been winning people back.
It was tired and rundown before. People stayed away – it was a similar group of people just in here drinking. So getting families and women back in has been a big success story. We wanted to make it inviting again. And warm and clean for people to come back. We wanted people to enjoy their village pub again. It’s their pub after all. We’re running it for them.
“SO GETTING FAMILIES AND WOMEN BACK IN HAS BEEN A BIG SUCCESS STORY. WE WANTED TO MAKE IT INVITING AGAIN”
It’s all about incentives to get people through the door.
Sport is the hook. Once they’re through the door, we’ve got them. So we ensure the bar snacks are good, if there’s a big game on – rugby or football – we make sure there are some quality, good old sausage rolls on the menu. Pasties… You have to play to the crowd a little bit. If the football is on we’ll probably do some promotions on quality lagers.
— Tom Wardle (@TomWardleMusic) May 1, 2017
If you’re in the pub trade you’ve got to be on social media.
We’re very fortunate having Stuart and Harry because they have a lot of followers. All it takes is the odd tweet from Stu and our phone is ringing off the hook. A promotion about Super Sunday say, mentioning our roasts and an offer on Malbec and the phone is constantly ringing. We try and do a lot of social media. It’s all in house. The manager has the password; the chefs will put photos of the food on there. We’re up to 2,000 followers, so if we get 15-20 people come in on the back of a tweet mentioning what game is on or what food we’re serving… You’ve got to do it. Otherwise you get left behind. Harry is very good at looking after the website and Facebook. We have a bit of fun with it as well. It helps. It gets people talking.
“WE TRY AND DO A LOT OF SOCIAL MEDIA. YOU’VE GOT TO DO IT. OTHERWISE YOU GET LEFT BEHIND”
The outside pizza oven is a great in the summer.
We offer that as takeaway too. We also offer two-for-one pizzas when the game is on. There’s not a takeaway in the village so that helps. People have to come and pick it up so quite often they’ll come and have a drink while they wait. So it’s good marketing. It works really well.
We’re in talks with the Post Office to get them back.
They used to have the Post Office here two days a week because there isn’t a Post Office in the village. When we closed for the renovation work they rehoused it. Things like that we can work with. We used to have a ukulele group on a Thursday night. You have to include everybody. We put posters up for the local drama group. We support local charities. We’re involved in the Wymeswold Waddle. So you do become a focal point in the community. There’s a big cycling team in the village, a cricket team, a darts team, a pétanque team, there’s tennis courts… you have to incorporate all these guys. It’s good marketing and good business. It keeps you ticking along through the week, so you’re not just relying on weekend trade.
We offer free Wi-Fi.
We use a local company for all our cakes. It’s good to get local people involved. People come in here with their laptops and have a coffee. It’s good for people that work from home to come in and get away. Three mornings a week we open early. So there’s Wi-Fi, newspapers, Sky News is on in the background, coffees. We use a local coffee company called 200 Degrees. Everywhere we can we use local companies because it creates a nice quirky backstory. We always said we wanted to use local companies wherever possible. That helps, because they spread the word and people love that. If you’re using local companies it can create a good buzz and euphoria. People like to see that. It’s rewarding.
We have a bit of live acoustic music on some Fridays.
We’re not that big so we can’t get a full band in here. But acoustic duos work. We had an Irish duo in on St Patrick’s Day for example. It plays a big part.
Again it’s all about being a chameleon-like pub.
You have to change week to week and look what’s on. During an international break we’ll got some music in. And always promote stuff. We’ve got a curry night coming up. So theme nights are good. You don’t have to flog it every week. I think that’s when ideas can become old hat. Just drop them in every now and again, but promote them properly. Don’t just announce it the day before. Get the word out on social media.
You can always pick up new ideas.
Whenever I’m travelling across the country I’m always on the look out. Everywhere I go I’ve got my notebook out. It’s a quest to create the perfect pub. I’m always up for pinching ideas. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As long as you don’t do it from the pub down the road! You’ve got to keep learning, evolving and changing.
At the same time keep the basics right:
Is it warm? Is it welcoming? Just the little things. There are a lot of pubs getting it right. And there are a lot of places to go, so you have to be on point. Otherwise people will go somewhere else.
A great pub is a little bit of everything.
You’ve got to have a happy team. We try not to kill anybody. If they’re working Friday night, they don’t work Saturday night. You have to look after people. So instantly you have a happy pub. So as soon as someone walks in they can sense a good atmosphere. Keep a happy, clean pub and people will instantly recognise it. People know when it feels right. And just look after people. It’s in our culture. We want to go to nice pubs. And enjoy it. Doing the simple things right. Because they do go away and talk about it with their friends.
We’re actively looking for a new pub.
People are coming to us. We’ve been doing some investigating ourselves too. We’ve all got our favourite pubs. We’d love to open a pub a year for the next five years. Five is the plan. It’s still manageable but we’d be tested. Watch this space.