Richard and Niki Clark
Richard & Niki took on the Unicorn, a village pub in Kingwood near Henley in October 2015. Both had worked within the broader hospitality sector before, but running a pub was a new venture.
“We knew we wanted the Unicorn the minute we stepped through the pub door,” says Richard. “Three months later, we were behind the bar, welcoming customers to ‘our pub’. It was a bit of a nerve-wracking time, particularly in the couple of weeks before opening, but throughout it, we felt we were being well supported by Brakspear. Even though it was our first pub, they’d opened hundreds, so we took comfort from their years of experience.
“Amanda, Brakspear’s recruitment manager, was our main point of contact throughout the pre-opening phase. She gave us all the information on the pubs they had available, talked us through the recruitment process and, once we’d chosen the Unicorn, made sure we always knew what was happening to our application. When we got to our interview with Tom we felt very prepared, and he offered us the pub straight away – apparently he was impressed with our business plan.
“Before opening, Amanda put us onto the Pre-Entry Awareness Training course and gave us extra help on food service, which was a new area for us. Just as importantly, she communicated Brakspear’s confidence in us as tenants, which was tremendously reassuring.”
Samesh Ramjattan, Ray Daykin & Jose Fernandez Rama
Samesh, Ray and Jose opened Brava Tapas at the Swan in Bicester in March 2015 and followed it with a second site in Banbury in February this year.
All three came from a food service background, having met at the Villandry restaurant at Bicester Village and previously worked, individually, at Browns, Carluccio’s and La Tasca, among others. Having decided to pool their talents and open a tapas restaurant together, the trio started their search for a suitable site, which led – after a few setbacks - to the Swan in the centre of Bicester.
Sam says, “When we learned the Swan was available, we knew it would be perfect for Brava Tapas. Luckily, Brakspear also loved our idea, so once we’d had the ‘thumbs up’, things moved quickly.
“We dealt initially with Amanda, Brakspear’s recruitment manager. She gave us some great, honest advice, including the pitfalls. Importantly, we felt she was on our side, wanting our business to succeed as much as we did, which was a great support.
“As we came from a hospitality background, we didn’t need as much support as some new tenants, but we still did the Pre-Entry Awareness Training and learned from it. And since opening, we’ve made good use of the training courses offered by Brakspear, for our staff as well as ourselves.”