Chef and publican, Joe Tansley, of the Bell and Cross in Worcestershire has shown immense innovation in the face of adversity, successfully adapting the operating model of his pub, with plans to harness the power of technology to safely reopen the site over the coming weeks.
The news, which comes after the Government announcement that pubs won’t reopen until 4 July at the earliest, clearly demonstrates the continued desire and passion of publicans across the country to act as a hub for their communities.
Having worked internationally as a chef for almost a decade, Joe returned home in 2018 to take over and refurbish the Bell and Cross and utilise his culinary experience to put together an offer that he felt the local area was missing.
The pub places an emphasis on honest, unpretentious cooking, championing high-quality, seasonal ingredients and elevating them using the combined culinary experience of Joe and his head chef Chris Dukes.
When lockdown commenced in March, the pub quickly pivoted to introduce a takeaway offer that has been incredibly well received, selling thousands of meals to the local community and a far to date. The menu features a number of classic dishes from the pub’s menu, such as their twice baked cheese souffle and 12-hour braised blade of beef, which have been specifically designed to travel well.
Joe said: “The key to all business is having the ability to adapt and evolve with the times. Funnily enough, we had already started developing a takeaway menu before lockdown was announced, but the decision very much focused our efforts. It has been overwhelming to receive so much positive feedback from the customers and the number of orders we’ve been fulfilling has been rising exponentially week after week as word has spread.
“This has been very much a team effort and I really can’t talk highly enough about the quality of people I have working for and with me. They are the beating heart of every service and on the frontline providing high quality dishes with a smile. We’re raring to go and looking forward to reopening as soon as possible.”
In addition to doing a roaring takeaway trade, the Bell and Cross has been developing innovative plans to allow it to safely reopen over the coming weeks. The plan will see the site utilise QR code technology, where Callum Herron at Smart Epos has been vital by planning and developing the software, to allow customers to visit the pub’s garden and scan a QR code with their smartphone at their table, to order and pay for food and drinks remotely.
With the weather in the Great British summer often unpredictable, and with the focus on the health of guests paramount, the pub is also introducing a marquee into its garden, which will have a transparent roof to allow guests to enjoy the weather – if the sun is shining – as well as internal dividers to create compartments that allow for distancing which complies with Government guidelines.
Joe added: “Just like the rest of the UK, we’re itching to get back into the pub. But, the safety of our guests is absolutely paramount and so we’ve explored a number of different options to ensure that we can open the site and meet the Government’s guidelines. We are planning on opening over the coming weeks and we’re eagerly anticipating welcoming back customers new and old. Pubs are very much the beating heart of communities all across the UK, so I’ll certainly be raising a glass in celebration once we can reopen the Bell and Cross and reinstate its position in the community.”
The takeaway service at the Bell and Cross, Clent runs between 5pm – 9pm Mon to Friday, 5pm – 5:30pm on Saturdays and 12pm – 10pm on Sundays. It plans to reopen its garden for service on the 4th July at the earliest.