If you happen to visit the small town of Papcastle, one mile west of Cockermouth – a small town on the edge of the Lake District, you’ll probably come across a cosy pub called The Belle Vue Inn. Todor Chiviyski is the owner and manager of this local haunt which has been open for over 12 years. We contacted Todor to speak to him about his business, his dreams for the establishment and entrepreneurship within the hospitality trade.
Todor has had a wealth of experience in the industry in Bulgaria prior to buying the pub in May 2013 but he says there are some differences between running a business in Bulgaria and in the Lakes.
“The method to do business is generally the same but there is of course a lot of different legislation and rules to follow. But this is something I’ve learned coming here. I always say everything that you’re doing you learn something new everyday.”
He adds: “The regulation here is not as bureaucratic, the way to do business is easier here than in Bulgaria.”
Todor says one of the main differences he’s learned is about his customers which come into The Belle Vue Inn. As the Lakes receives 12 million visitors per year, particularly from countries such as China, Japan, Spain, Germany and the US, his customer base is international as well as local which can present challenges for catering for various tastes. He says it’s a balance between catering what the locals want, and what is expected of British cuisine.
“It’s good experience, you can speak with a lot of people from a range of different places. It’s a great feeling of customer satisfaction when you can please both,” he says.
Those of your reading this who work within the hospitality trade will testify and surely agree with Todor – every day brings something different to your day.
“There’s always something to do – it keeps you awake and its never boring. It’s not a nine to five job! Every day you can see something different,” says Todor.
Like many small business owners, Todor doesn’t have one single role within the business.
“Day to day my role is officially front of house but I try to spread my time between every part.”
It’s a juggling act which will resonate with many SME owners. Statistics released at the end of October state that small business owners spend an average of over 38% of their working week (15 hours) on admin – time which could be used to grow their business. It’s a necessary evil which has to be done sadly.
So what does the future hold for The Belle Vue Inn and for its growth as a business? Todor says he’d like to use his experience working at The Belle Vue Inn and channel it into running and owning something bigger like a small hotel or B&B. But for now his focus is still very much on his current position…
“For The Belle Vue Inn, I have some goals to achieve. I want to make a name for the business in the community that can work. If I manage to do this, that will allow me to move to somewhere bigger.”
As Todor’s only run the pub for six months he says he would like to develop its local audience through investing in range of advertising and marketing activities as well as improving customer service and The Belle Vue’s offering.
Todor says: “I have customers who travel over 30 miles for their dinner and lunch but this is something I’d like to grow.”
Todor’s Advice to other SMEs in the Hospitality Sector
We asked Todor for his advice to other budding restaurateurs and hospitality professionals.
- “First – think about the local people – understand market and audience. What do the local people want exactly. If you want to look after the tourist – find out what they want. Most come from cities and want to see something simple.”
- “Don’t be anonymous – never hide from the customers,” he says. Being present, front of house and building a rapport with customers is key to running a successful public house.
If you’re ever in the Lake District and you fancy a Sunday lunch and some warm hospitality, we hear The Belle Vue Inn near Cockermouth might just be the ticket.
The Belle Vue Inn
Tel: 01900 823518