Based in Staffordshire, a county renowned for its beers and brewing, Jack Taylor FBII manages several craft beer venues and is a nationwide beer distributor. The devil’s Taphouse & Bottlehouse in Stafford and the hideout in leek provide beer lovers a choice of how and when to enjoy, at home or in the pub. The BII’s Max Burke MBII reports
Jack Taylor FBII never did well at school, in fact he confesses to hating the whole experience, but his first job in a pub provided him with the inspiration he needed, and today he is proof of how the hospitality sector can play a key role in transforming young people’s lives – by putting them on course for a meaningful and successful future. Upon leaving school, Jack got himself a job as a pot wash at a pub in his hometown of Stone, a market town just north of Stafford. It wasn’t long before this hardworking and enthusiastic entrepreneur began climbing the career ladder, with rapid progression that saw him promoted into the role of Operations Director of a local restaurant, aged 18. Just a year later he was entrusted with taking on a new venue, The Bear, for Marston’s at the tender age of 19. Jack explains: “We did a £250,000 refurbishment with Marston’s directly and built The Bear up to a really great live music venue. It was at this point that I joined the BII”. Jack could not speak highly enough of his membership and the benefits he has received. Being trusted with such a business, whilst still a teenager, reaffirmed the potential and confidence that was evident in Jack early on.
When Covid hit, Jack saw an opportunity to supply people at home with everything from beer glasses to beer. And so, when the first lockdown ended, Jack was well on his way with his next venture, The Devil’s Taphouse. Opening on September 11, 2020, he was quick to capitalise on the cheap rent that was available at that time. But the opportunity turned out to be short-lived. “Within six weeks we got closed back down again because of Covid. I like to adapt to situations quickly, and overnight we turned the pub into a beer shop. We also started selling a few essential items, to keep the council happy. If you’re not willing to adapt, then you are going to be left behind,” he says. His success with the craft beer shop meant that as soon as restrictions were lifted, Jack seized the chance to expand his business ventures, opening The Devil’s Bottlehouse just two doors down from the Taphouse. And he has since acquired The Hideout in Leek, plus another bar nearby, which will also sell craft beer and cask after it is refurbished. All his venues are 100% wet. “We want to focus on the people who want to come into a venue and just be able to have a decent pint or drink. We don’t want to take the focus off what we do well.” Despite the lack of any food offering, Jack says the pandemic has provided an additional revenue stream for his businesses, as people’s lifestyle changes means that kegs of craft beer for home consumption are still in demand. The Great British Beer Company sells to over 400 breweries, distillers and cider manufacturers. Standing still is not in Jack’s DNA. As he enters his 11th year in hospitality, the youngest Fellow of the BII is continuously making investment into his businesses – almost £250,000 in the last 12 months alone. But his most valuable asset, he says, is his team of 80 staff. “Find good staff, invest in them and make them feel like everything they’re doing is going to make a difference to the business. As long as you give back to them and treat staff well, that’s the best investment you can make.”
Jack likes to be authentic and takes a genuine approach with his staff. He likes to use social media as a key promotion tool. “We’re not trying to be a big corporate company. We’re trying to be a pub company that likes to do things well. We are realistic and like to be approachable. I think that helps most people in life.” Jack’s success with social media has caught the attention of other brewers, which have got in touch to offer to do tap takeovers at the bars. Choice and variation are key to the bar’s successes, as Jack likes to have two regular beers and the rest on rotation, changing daily in order to keep people coming back to try new flavours and styles. He likes to take advice, chatting to brewers and having a suggestion box for customers to nominate new beers. Looking ahead, Jack is well aware of the challenges, especially the alcohol duty changes. This and the continuously high maintenance costs means Jack is hoping for good news in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, but he’s already making plans to cover all bases, as they prepare for winter. As someone the BII has recently recognised as a Fellow, having been a member since 2019, but in the industry for ten years, Jack has nothing but good words to say about how the BII has supported him throughout his journey. “I was taken aback to receive the Fellowship, especially as I’m one of the youngest. It was really nice to be awarded that for giving so much back to the industry. Everything the BII does is for the people.” On Jack’s office wall is a quote from his old school business teacher, who co-incidentally is now a regular at one of his bars: “Taylor, you’ll never make anything of yourself.” It is rather pleasing to know that Jack’s former teacher is now a customer and has got to see what a successful career and life he has made, not only for himself, but for his team of people – both now and for the foreseeable future.