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As seen on The Restaurant Man


Pub Furniture Case Study

The Restaurant Man together with furniture from Pub Stuff help with the new look Bell at Selsley deliver a memorable

experience to customers

Debbie Long and her partner Dave Excell are very unique when it comes to owning a pub/restaurant. They are also farmers who own and live on a 12 acre farm in nearby Woodchester. They have a ready source of their own beef, pork, game, lamb and vegetables for their Chef to turn into delicious meals for customers of their pub, The Bell Inn at Selsley, near Stroud nestling in the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

If that wasn’t enough, a further unusual twist is that adjoining The Bell is the couple’s own farm shop which provides local people with direct access to locally sourced goods. They specialise in wild meat, via their ‘Really Wild Meat Company’ with meat ranging from farm pigeon to duck and venison, which together with fresh vegetables are all available via the shop. Debbie commented, “Dave and myself can be picking it and our customers can be enjoying it the very next day. Traceability is extremely important to people these days, they want to know where their food is coming from.”

Dave and Debbie took part in ‘The Restaurant Man’ a television programme following the progress of people buying, purchasing or leasing an eating establishment who had never done it before. The programme followed their journey from beginning to end. Russell Norman, ‘The Restaurant man’ mentored them throughout the process from the point that they acquired The Bell in June 2013 to opening it in November 2013, visiting them and guiding them to ensure that they kept on track with their vision. It was a process that the couple greatly enjoyed despite the rigours of the project. “We had never done anything like this before and it was a significant project but it was also a great experience for us that we will never forget” said Debbie.

When they bought the pub, their vision was to provide somewhere for loyal, local customers to continue to enjoy while using the improvements to the pub to attract those local people who had not previously used the pub. “Having the farm shop connected to it was a completely different proposition to anywhere else, reflecting the standard of food we serve in the pub and also providing a convenient route to extremely fresh produce for local people,” explained Debbie.

They also saw The Bell Inn as a destination pub given its unique proposition, views of the beautiful Stroud valleys and stylish inviting surrounds. It was therefore important to create zoned areas within the pub to accommodate different groups, based on size and age providing the capacity to scale up and down in tune with demand. It was a substantial renovation project including the creation of a significant extension to the building comprising an area with floor to ceiling windows which became a stunning garden room, an area that could be hired out to accommodate larger parties and effortlessly connected with the outdoors.

Given the level of investment the couple had already made in the structural renovation, when it came to sourcing furniture, they recognised the need to achieve a cost effective solution without compromising on quality. They were extremely focussed on creating an attractive and inviting environment for customers in keeping with the high standard of renovation that had been applied to the building works. They contacted Pub Stuff, a national company who supply nearly new, second-hand and new contract pub furniture to the pub, hospitality and leisure trade. Their core proposition is availability, affordability and value for money through huge stocks of both refurbished and brand new stylish pub furniture.

“Initially we considered revamping the original furniture to give it an authentic style but decided against that” said Debbie. “We were extending and the existing pub furniture wouldn’t accommodate the new floor space. Another consideration was that we had a mismatch of heights and sizes so there was no way to bolt anything together in a modular way to accommodate the range of group sizes who we anticipated would use the pub.

Our existing furnishings were also very tired in both looks and usability and we were looking for a newer, fresher style with a modern twist. Looking around the wider area, it seemed to us that everyone had gone down the rustic and vintage wood look and we were keen to differentiate.

I did a fair bit of research when it came to finding a supplier and found Pub Stuff on the internet. I drove over to their showroom in Oxfordshire and really loved the quality. The price was almost too good to be true and as a result we have got an awful lot of value for our furniture budget without any compromise to quality.

When it came to the chairs, we were totally committed to providing comfortable rather than hard chairs. Our vision was very much to have furniture where customers would be able to sit, relax and enjoy the comfort of soft seating.

Sally at Pub Stuff was brilliant. She came over to what was effectively a building site and was able to immediately see what our vision was for the pub. I am completely new to the industry and it was fantastic to be able to find a supplier who was prepared to take the stress away from me and take control. She quickly came up with a mood board and furniture options to reflect the different zones we wanted to create.”

Dave and Debbie didn’t want conformity they wanted a more random look and on Sally’s advice went for a combination of 4 to 5 different styles. This was teamed with consistent use of 3 or 4 different contract fabrics.

The tables were modular and of similar heights but different styles, some had a painted finish and others didn’t. They also added oblong, oval or round styles to break up the uniformity. The diversity of the range chosen, the ability to adapt the finish of the wood together with the recommended choice of fabrics made for a superb, unique end result.

Using this approach, Sally showed Debbie and Dave how to ‘zone’ their wide choice of areas. The Bell Inn comprises a private dining area, snug area and upper restaurant/bar which are all open plan. Some areas have arches to create natural divisions so that the areas were separated out and easy to distinguish. Being unsure of how their customers would use the pub and the zones, when it came to the big opening, Debbie and Dave simply opened up the zones and let customers find their own way.

“Within less than 2 months of opening, we were also already accommodating large groups in the restaurant and pub area and the design ideas from Sally have proved themselves and worked well to serve different types of customer which we get in our venue.

We found that couples tended to go into the private dining area with the log burner whereas locals wanted to still be able to use and drink at the bar. Part of our vision was to avoid being a local village pub that became a restaurant – we absolutely wanted to be able t make it work for everyone.

“Affordability and suitability for the purpose was at the top of our agenda” said Debbie, “however the fact that Pub Stuff supply both upcycled pub furniture and new contract furniture made of sustainable woods fits very much with our own sustainable ethos which we think is brilliant.

What really stood out for us was the quality of the product which could be easily manipulated to suit my requirements. I loved the fact that it was a hassle free purchase given the shortage of time in such a huge project. Sally was very much the expert who understood our vision and got our needs absolutely right. I’d say the proof of the pudding is that I have already been back to Pub Stuff to buy some extra [ub bar stools to cope with demand!” laughed Debbie.

Pub Stuff are based in Cropredy, near Banbury in Oxfordshire and supply both new and recycled pub furniture to Pubs, Bar, Restaurants, Clubs, Cafes, Bistros and the Hospitality and Leisure Industry.