Rebecca White is the new co-director of The Royal George pub and restaurant in Old Shotton and here tells us more about her move from restaurant manager to boss.
It’s just three months since Rebecca White became co-director of highly popular pub and restaurant, The Royal George in Old Shotton, but in that short time she’s quickly making her mark.
EDB: You have recently become a director at The Royal George in Old Shotton. Tell us more about that? RW: I originally came here for one shift to help out but with my experience in the hospitality sector, I was quickly made restaurant manager. Then, in June last year the pub was taken over by March Inns and one of the two co-directors decided he wanted to sell up and have a complete change. It presented me with the opportunity to buy in and after giving it thought, I decided to go for it. In November everything was finalised and along with Peter Martin, I am now co-director.
EDB: Is being a director different to being an employee? RW: In some ways yes. There is a lot more admin and management to oversee which is different for me. So some days when I come in I might be sat on the laptop, keeping on top of orders, salaries etc. I also had to submit my first VAT bill recently, and that was interesting I can tell you. But I am loving it and feel like I live and breathe this job.
EDB: The pub has been a mainstay on the East Durham food and drink scene for some time now, though has changed significantly in recent years. What’s can people expect now? RW: It’s fair to say the hospitality sector is really struggling at the moment, particularly on the back of Covid, so to succeed you need to keep up with the times. I think what we’ve done well is creating an environment that appeals to such a broad range of people – we have families coming in for lunch or evening meals, couples out on date night, regulars who come in after work for a pint or glass of wine and groups of friends who want to enjoy good quality food and drink. There’s also the private dining rooms which can be booked out for functions. Collectively, they’ve helped cement our position as a real hub of the community, somewhere people genuinely enjoy coming.
EDB: You mentioned about being a hub in the community. That’s something that’s really important to you isn’t it? RW: Yes, definitely. We’ve done a lot in the community recently, including giving out picnic boxes to people with food we had leftover from an event we held. That went down so well and gives something back to people who need a bit of extra help. We also did a Christmas present appeal where we got people to donate presents which could then be given out to those most in need. I have also organised an event in aid of Spare 10 for Ben, a suicide charity based in Dawdon which was set up to help anyone battling mental health problems. Things like this are really important to me as it brings people together and shows we’re more than just a pub and restaurant, we’re at the heart of the East Durham community.
EDB: What’s a typical day for you? RW: Every day is different, and I can honestly say I do a bit of everything. You could find me cleaning dishes in the kitchen, serving meals to customers, pulling pints behind the bar or sat behind my laptop managing orders or keeping on top of financial admin. There’s nothing I’d expect my staff to do that I wouldn’t.
EDB: It’s becoming a family affair for you isn’t it? RW: Yes, my kids come in and help. Alex, my eldest who’s 15, is working in the kitchen while Matthew, 11 and James, five, have also been helping out – ask anyone who the real boss is and they’ll tell you it’s James. People say to me, how do you manage running a pub and having three children – well, you just do but it definitely makes things a bit easier when they come into work with you.
EDB: You seem to really love your job. What is it about working at this particular pub and restaurant that suits you so much? RW: The customers, I love the banter, the customers know me now and they like winding me up. It feels like a night out most of the time though some days are harder than others, especially when we’re really busy or are short staffed.
I wouldn’t change it though and I genuinely don’t feel like I’m coming to work as I enjoy it so much.
EDB: The George recently launched a new lunchtime menu. Tell us more about that. RW: I felt we were missing a trick with our lunchtime offering as many people don’t want a big, heavy meal, they want something lighter. So what we’ve introduced gives people that choice, that if they just want a small portion or a light bite they can. But our other menus are still available for those that want to fill up.
EDB: What are you most excited about for 2023? RW: The events. I have a lot planned this year; there’s the King’s Coronation in May which we’ll be celebrating and then on May 20 we’re hosting a festival in aid of breast cancer to try and raise money. Then, on Saturday, April 8, we’re putting on breakfast with the Easter Bunny. It’s exciting and people have been so complimentary about the changes I’ve made.