Pub in Focus - The Green Man, Church End, Eversholt

Tell us about your background

When I was taking my A-levels, I was told that I probably wouldn't pass them and that I should look for a career as a waitress! I decided that if this was the case then I would be the best waitress possible. I applied (along with hundreds of others) for a job in management training with the Savoy Hotel group in London and was successful. This was a good grounding in the hotel and catering industry. James, who I didn't know at the time but is now my husband, also secured a job with the Savoy Group and this is how we met. After the Savoy, he worked in Dubai and France and ran wine bars and I stayed within five star London hotels. If you had told me at that time that we would end up running a pub in a village with two small children then I would have said you are mad! Note: I did pass my A-levels and I did get back in touch with the individual who made the waitress comment and exchanged a few pleasantries.

How did you get into this Industry?

In the recession in the late eighties, there was a lot of negative speculation regarding the prospects for university graduates. So rather than apply for Uni and then start to look for a job (at around the age of 22) I decided to endeavour to secure a job early and this is why I applied for the Savoy Group job. Back then, the Savoy Group was the créme-de-la-créme of the hotel/catering industry and included such names as Claridges and The Connaught so the training was excellent and was a great way to make my mark. During my training, I did my fair share of menial tasks. As a result of this experience, I treat all my staff, irrespective of status, with equal respect and will help with any of the tasks, for example, washing up.

Is this your first pub?

No, we eventually took on The George pub in Little Brickhill. We ran this from 2002 to 2007.

How long have you been running The Green Man?

During our time at The George we were made aware of the Green Man which was closed and empty at the time. We took on the leasehold of the Green Man in 2006 which means that we ran both pubs for a year. We have now been at the Green Man for over ten years and our younger son was born here.

What are the most/least enjoyable aspects of running a pub?

For me, the most enjoyable aspect is that, when I wake up in the morning, I never know what the day will bring. I would hate to be in a mundane 9 to 5 job with the same daily routine. I enjoy flying by the seat of my pants. Today (the day of interview) we have a Christmas booking for 20 heads on top of normal trade so it is all systems go. Tomorrow and subsequent days, I don't know if we'll get another 20 or none at all! The least enjoyable aspect is when, late in the evening, someone tries to tell you how to run your pub. They see the business from the other side of the bar and think they know all about running a pub. It's like me saying that I own a car so could become a car mechanic and run a garage! We do welcome constructive criticism though!

Your vision for the future of the pub?

To keep doing what we're doing and working hard to improve everything. It's no good thinking "We've been here ten years so can easily do another ten" - you have to keep innovating and improving and never sit back on your laurels. Unfortunately we cannot rely just on the beverage side of the pub and have to offer good food. Although our background is five star London hotels, we have now brought our menu back to good old pub favourites with a twist - so the Fish & Chips are made with our own batter made with our ales and with fresh haddock; our Fishcakes are more fish than potato and our Ham, Egg & Chips is my Nan's recipe - a great big joint that is boiled & roasted with a huge slice carved off. Traditional but properly done!!

Regular events?

We don't have a rigid calendar of events except for major dates such as Bonfire Night, Christmas Eve and New Year's Day. Bonfire night is very well attended with fireworks and a barbeque. On Christmas Eve, there is a carol service in the church across the road and attendees/families pop into the Green Man to pre-order drinks. After the service, and back in the pub, the children are led to the restaurant and Father Christmas arrives. This is always a magical evening. On New Year's Day at about 4:00 p.m. we hold a quiz. This is usually hilarious as most people have headaches and are well past it but it is always booked up well in advance! We do, however, have occasional charity events and beer/sausage festivals and adapt to whatever our customers want. How do you see the future of the pub industry? James and I were chatting about this recently and discussed if our grandchildren would experience village pubs like ours and the answer was "Doubtful". With the advent of chain pubs with massive buying power and supermarkets selling alcohol as loss leaders it is making life very difficult. Thankfully, we have some fantastic regulars who we know and trust. If, for example, I need to go upstairs with the children, they will look after the bar and if they help themselves to a drink I will always find the money on the bar.

Does the pub have interesting historical connections?

The Green Man was built when the whole of Eversholt village formed part of the Duke of Bedford's Woburn Estate. It is the last surviving of many village pubs. The earliest mention in archives is in 1822 in the first Countywide Alehouse Register. However the stone plaque on the Green Man building states 1835.

Current beer choice?

We are free of tie so can order whatever real ales we want. We usually have 3 real ales on at any one time and our regular is Sharp's Doom Bar as this is very popular with our locals. The other two are ever changing guest beers, often including ales from local brewers such as Tring, Ampthill and Leighton Buzzard. James is meticulous on cleaning beer lines so we have great feedback on how they taste good.

Do locals have any input to the guest beer selection?

I always listen to and take on board suggestions and will always try to give my customers what they want.

Are you a CAMRA member?

Yes, both my husband and I are CAMRA members.

James & Louise Freeman