For Alan Burgwin, early October marks not one, but three major milestones in his life. He’s celebrating 25 years behind the bar at The Bentlands1, 40 years as a West Midlands publican, and his 70th birthday.
Since taking on The Bentlands, the Burgwin's have turned the pub around. They’ve transformed it from a drinker’s pub to a fantastic family friendly food pub attracting drinkers and diners alike. Initially employing just two people and the family, the local landmark is now so popular it employs 38 people.
Burgwin said, ‘I can remember coming to see The Bentlands 25 years ago. At that time, there were only three customers in the bar on a Saturday night. Even then I couldn’t get served! In spite of that I could see the potential of what was a sleeping giant. 25 years on, we’re packed out at weekends with around 400 people passing through the pub on a busy Friday or Saturday whether that’s for a drink or a meal.’
Burgwin has put the pub’s ongoing popularity down to moving with the times, offering great local ales, top quality food and good old customer service. He said, ‘You have to watch what is trending – such as gins - and what is in reality a flash in the pan. You also have to evolve menus rather than change overnight as some people don’t like change. As well as a traditional pub menu with specials made to order, we are renowned for our Tex Mex food. We were one of the first places in the area to serve Tex Mex food.’
A well-known figure locally, Burgwin is also chairman of the local Pub Watch and was Vice Chairman of the local British Institute of Innkeeping.
He said, ‘Everybody knows me because I’ve been around the area for 40 years. I can’t go anywhere without bumping into someone I know, which is lovely. It’s wonderful to see families come into the pub and their children either work here or come in as customers with their own children years later.’
Due to ill health, Burgwin has had to take a less hands-on role in the last six months, with his two managers, Becky Clarke and Lucy Bould who’ve been with him almost as long as he has run the pub, taking on more responsibility. However, he still remains enthusiastically at the helm looking to the future.
He noted,‘Having taken time out, I’ve seen how important it is to invest in training people and developing skills internally so people can make a career of working in pubs much like I have done. There’s a shortage of chefs, so I want to set up an apprenticeship scheme and grow our own.
‘Jackie and I love running our business and have made many good friends over the years. It’s because of the people we work with and our regular customers that neither of us intends to retire any time soon. So, a big “thank you” to all who have supported us over the years!’
Sandi Tipton, Star Pubs & Bars3 business development manager, added, “I came in here 20 odd years ago. It was the place to go then. Now I’m back as an area manager, and its still a great place to go. That’s down to the high standards Alan and Jackie maintain and keeping up with the times.
'I congratulate him on these major milestones in his life and wish him many happy years behind the bar doing what he and Jackie do best and what their customers love.’