Stories Behind the Stats: Ten Tun Tap House, Alton
** 3rd July - UPDATE! **
As pubs and bars are allowed to re-open from July 4th, we caught up the Ten Tun Taphouse to check out their plans. Read the first blog first, or skip straight to the update here:
The Ten Tun Taphouse, Alton
It's always exciting to see new dedicated craft beer places open up, especially when they're a first in the town. For Alton in Hampshire, there's been an underlying craft beer scene bubbling under the surface, waiting to rear its head. With Triple fff Brewery just down the road in Four Marks and their flagship pub, The Railway Arms, both being solid stockists of Siren (and other craft beer) it was only a matter of time before a dedicated craft beer pub opened.
Up stepped Jason Delaney with a bold venture to open Ten Tun Taphouse right in the centre of town. From the offset, Siren had been in touch with Jason to offer our support with POS and glassware and promotion. Everything looked set for a bright future, and then pandemic. The Taphouse opened on the Wednesday and was told to close its doors on the Friday.
As a citizen of Alton myself, I've watched Jason very quickly shift his entire plans, creating new outlets and driving business to continue. Here's his story:
Give us a quick intro for our readers
The Ten Tun Tap House is a brand new independent micro pub in the centre of Alton, Hampshire. We have 8 keg and 4 cask lines, with fridges stocked with some awesome cans from around the country.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
We opened 2 days before the lockdown. Alton had been crying out for craft beer and people were excited for us to open. But despite a cellar full of great beer, the opening week was a bit of an anti-climax. And being such a young business, we didn't qualify for some of the government support packages.
What had to change?
Opening a bar with zero experience isn't easy. Months of research, planning, building, decorating, licensing, etc. really takes its toll. I have an amazing wife who has been incredible throughout and instilled a lot of positivity, so we weren't going to let all of that effort be undone. It's normal for craft bars to have a takeaway offering, so we already had a small off-sales capability. We focused on that and, in two days our website was online and my car insurance upgraded! We were ready to safely take our beer to the customers , and it worked. Really well.
What's inspired you to keep going?
The British are a resilient bunch and we help each other through the tough times. The sense of community support for the bar has been incredible. The people of Alton and surrounding areas have been amazing in their support and have really helped us get through the initial lockdown. It's strange having regular customers who have never been to the pub!
What are you most looking forward to after all this over?
Finally getting people into the bar and enjoying the hard work we put in. The hospitality industry is all about people enjoying themselves, and to achieve that with my own creation would make me very happy indeed.
How’s business been since we last heard from you?
It's been OK. Very weather-dependant though. When it's nice and warm we're as busy as we were when lockdown started. But when the BBQ goes away it changes instantly. But overall, we're covering costs, just about!
Have you seen a drop off of custom over time or are you still as busy on average?
There has definitely been a shift in sales since people went from being on Furlough back to work again. That's to be expected, but it makes things a lot tighter. And people have moved to buying beer from supermarkets as well, which I totally understand and predicted. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that supermarkets are stocking craft beer as it shows more and more people are demanding it. But pubs need support now more than ever. And maybe I'm different, but in the future I'd much prefer to socialise and celebrate birthdays in pubs rather than a Morrisons car park. Let's not let supermarkets do to pubs what they have to butchers, fishmongers, etc.
What do you make of the government’s July 4th announcement?
Maybe I'm being a bit naive here but being a rural town, we haven't seen much in the way of Coronavirus cases. Alton seems to be a low risk area, where relaxing the lockdown would help both the people and local businesses get some normality back without, hopefully, seeing an increase in cases. The timing is good for the hospitality market too. We're right on the edge of it now and we need a boost to get things back on track. I'm confident we can work it in a sensible way.
Have you received any specific guidelines?
There have been guidelines published around distancing, communications to staff and customers, and risk assessments. However, there has been next to nothing about 'track & trace', which I find quite incredible. Whilst I want to congratulate how the government has (eventually) handled the crisis, I'm not happy about publicans been forced to record customer information. Something a government track & trace app should be doing.
Do you plan to open and how will you do it?
We plan to open from the 4th July. The bar area and decking have been worked into tables with 1 metre distancing. I'm asking people to book, but walk-ins are fine if we have the space. Our delivery service will stop from Saturday 4th, but we will be offering takeaways from the bar.
The website used for our delivery service will be updated so that people can order drinks from their tables, as well as takeaway drinks. Overall, I want to give people confidence in using the pub, whilst maintaining the feel of being in a relaxed pub environment.
And in case people are a bit rusty on how to use a pub, I've put a handy pub etiquette video on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
View this post on Instagram
Any final thoughts?
What we really need back are the many regular reasons people go to the pub. Like the Wednesday night pint after football, a sneaky beer on the way home from the shop, weekend socials with your mates, or the much-needed beer after a long day at work. And this country is seriously good at that!
Let's get back to enjoying ourselves whilst being mindful of the current guidelines. To book a table please visit www.tentuntaphouse.com.
If you're in the surrounding areas, visit tentuntaphouse.com to order keg, cask or canned beer delivered the same day to your door!
Stay tuned for more stories from within the industry, and get in touch if you'd like your business featured!
See the rest of the Stories Behind The Stats here: sirencraftbrew.com/stories