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The BII thrives on the diversity of its 10,000 plus members, and through case studies and interviews we're able to find out more about some of the individuals that make up our network in the licensed trade.

Click on any of the links below to read about the personal experience and benefits individuals have found since becoming members of the BII.

Terry Lee, FBII - Leo's Red Lion

Terry Lee FBII is one of our longest standing members, having run Leo’s Red Lion, his pub in Gravesend, for as long as the BII has been around. With over 40 years in the trade, Terry has some truly incredible stories and lessons to share from his time at Leo’s.

The BII’s Peter Baskett MBII reports.

Leo’s Red Lion is not your typical pub – how many pubs do you know that have hosted the likes of Iron Maiden, Samson and Steve Marriott? Terry Lee FBII considers Leo’s to be more of a small venue than a pub, as they regularly feature British rock artists in their popular weekend music events.

Coming from a background in music as a DJ and promoter, he recalls how he originally took on the lease for the pub, which was conveniently adjoined to an old factory. He eventually 
got the freehold and transformed the venue into a staple for local rock fans.

“The lease on the factory next door expired and that’s when they approached me to ask if I would be interested in the pub.

“I had to take a lease out, and then I eventually got the freehold. To be 
perfectly honest, if I hadn’t had bought the freehold, I’ve got no doubt that the place would have been shut along with the other 10 pubs along this road.”

Terry explains how being resourceful has been key to his pub’s longevity. For example, when he first came into possession of the factory, rather than throw out the old workbenches, he decided to repurpose them.

“It had about 10 of these, what I call Victorian weld benches, which are bloomin’ solid, you 
know, four-inch legs on them – you could put a car on them. I removed all of these benches and, like Tetris, put them up one end and then covered them with inch ply. And I looked 
at them and thought, I know what to do – and to this day, that is the stage.”

Pubs are not only about food and drink; they’re also about community and entertainment, which is what Leo’s excels at. Talking about the recent shift in how people engage with pubs, Terry explains how he converted a quiet bar of his into a local boxing club, to make use of the space and to give back to the community.

 “My other half asked me when was the last time I had used that bar? It is the size of most pubs and I wasn’t using it because not enough people came here. So, when I saw that the children didn’t have a club anymore, I let them use it.”

Giving back to the community in this way builds loyalty among the locals, which is paid back to Terry when he hosts social functions.
“When we hold family functions, like our firework display in November, we’ve got 200 children, mums and dads out the front, half of whom come from the boxing club. It’s second to none, literally, there is not a fireworks display that matches it.”

Adapting your business to the current climate requires creative use of the resources available to you. Leo’s is fortunate enough to benefit from a large space, which they put to good use. When the pandemic rolled around and the venue had to shut, Terry was already thinking ahead: “I said to my missus, I’ve got a plan. I think the first thing we’re going to be able to do again is use outdoor facilities.”

Having an old and disused stage outside, he got to work on having it cleaned and repainted, posting updates to the pub’s Facebook page along the way to keep customers in the loop. When pubs were granted permission for a limited number of customers outside, as Terry had predicted, Leo’s was ready.

“During the pandemic, we were the only music venue in Kent that was able to put bands on.” These were big bands, used to performing into front of 1,000s but who, due to the pandemic, hadn’t been able to play.

“They were quite happy to come here and perform on this small, outdoor stage in front of 70-80 people, just to be able to play, because there was no other option. As a result, we’ve built up a very good reputation for music. In fact, we’re rated as one of the best privately owned music venues in England, let alone in Kent. So we are quite lucky.”

Try new things
When asked what advice Terry has for other pub operators, he replies that people shouldn’t be afraid to follow their ideas, take risks and try new things, while also learning from your experiences to understand better what works and what doesn’t. 

Know your costs
Having a thorough understanding of your business’ finances is crucial to maintaining 
a successful pub, as is the case with Terry and Leo’s Red Lion.

He referenced a recent example, where he was charged £5 extra for a crate of toilet rolls. Questioning the new £17 price tag, he was told the price of everything was going up. “They might be, but it means I will never be buying a toilet roll from you ever again. Because I can get them from Bookers for £12.”

Terry’s takeaway? Don’t forget there’s no return on the money you spend on toilet rolls.

He has also tackled the recent increase in energy prices, which have created a number of new challenges for publicans. Event venues, like Leo’s, have had to make big changes to their stage equipment to remain viable. Terry has swapped the power draining spotlights, which were 500 watts each and wired into a 60-amp supply, for LED spots on a 13-amp supply. 

As one of our most loyal members, we asked Terry how the BII has helped him over his 30 years of membership, to which he replied that his BII Fellowship had saved his pub in 2005.
He explains how, when the Local Authority didn’t want a live music venue, they put pressure on him to sell. 

“But I said no. ‘It’s far too important as a live music venue for you to shut’, these were my exact words to them.”

After refusing their offer to buy the pub, his operation was regularly visited by the police, which he believes was in an attempt to catch him out. Then he was told his licence, which he’d had since 1985, was to be reduced.

Speaking to the licensing officer of the time, Terry was told the change was due to misdemeanours, which he said was ironic, when he had just been awarded a Fellowship by the BII. 

Not one to give up, Terry contacted his local newspaper, the Kent Messenger, to tell his story. And when the news broke about the Gravesend pub of over 20 years, owned by a Fellow of the BII, being pressurised to close, Terry says the problems went away, which he puts down to his being awarded the fellowship at the time.

We’re delighted, of course, that Leo’s Red Lion is still here and hosting live music, as Terry’s approach is a great example of how being adaptable, taking risks, focusing on your community, and understanding your financials can bring long-term success

Simon Brencher, FBII - The Greyfriar

Nestled in the Hampshire countryside, opposite Jane Austen’s house in Chawton near Alton, The Greyfriar is fast becoming a gastronomic destination pub. The BII’s Hana Rhodes MBII reports.

Landlord Simon Brencher FBII has had a varied career up to this point, including a stint with the circus, while working his way up through the bars and restaurants of Manchester and London. Cutting his teeth as General Manager for Gordon Ramsey Holdings, and with London’s first Indian Michelin Star restaurant Benares, Simon has successfully brought his high standards and eye for detail to The Greyfriar.

The backbone of this success is Simon’s aptitude for finding top staff, using his contacts to attract young talent to his kitchen and front-of-house teams.

“My background is in London, so when I first came to Alton, it became all about finding chefs who would meet the standard. Tom Hinsley, my current Head Chef, started out as Sous Chef at Jason Atherton’s City Social. He’s from Hayling Island originally, so he has returned to his roots by coming back to Hampshire.”

Supporting Tom is 17-year-old Sous Chef, Lilly Vaughan. Lilly joined The Greyfriar as a KP aged 14 and, with encouragement, is now undertaking an apprenticeship.

“I’m very proud. She’s smashing it. A stunning chef, really. She’s going to be so successful. Under the last Head Chef she moved up from KP to start doing a bit of prep, the starters and before you know it, she’s running the kitchen on her own with a 30-year-old chef working under her.”

Simon places great importance on instilling the ethos of motivation, teamwork and development into the team.

“As an owner, you’ve got to make sure that it’s worth their while to do it. And it’s not all about money. They have to be able to see why we’re doing it, I never just say ‘we’re doing this’ – it’s about them understanding the bigger picture.”

Tailoring the high end, luxury London experience to the expectations of a country pub in Hampshire has been considered too.

“Funnily enough, I’ve had to deaden my eye for detail a little, because people are coming here for a more relaxed atmosphere. We know this, so while we train to a very high level, we can bring it back a bit.”

Simon gives his chefs autonomy over the menu, asking only that they use local suppliers, where possible, choose seasonal ingredients and aim for 70% GP.

“I’m happy with 65-68% – that’s the reality. The hard bit is alcohol, as I’m tied to Fuller’s, therefore I’m never going to get more than 55%-58%. It used to be 60/40 split on beer to food, it’s now 55 food/45 beer.

“My turnover has increased though, on average by 75% although some weeks I’m doubling the turnover from when I started five years ago. I’ve got a tracker of where we are in a spreadsheet, so day-by-day, year-on-year, I know where we are,” he says.

Each month Simon aims to bring his customers back for something new, an unmissable experience that will keep them returning.

Known for its experimental food evenings, The Greyfriar holds Guest Chef nights and new inter-pub food battles. Guest Chefs such as Jane Devonshire, Jitin Joshi and Saurav Nath have hosted special themed evenings, which are always a sell-out.

Simon explains, that these experimental food evenings have been designed to be great value for money, and a way for The Greyfriar’s patrons to vote on the new dishes the chefs are trialling. It gives control back to the customers, he says, and creates loyalty.

Inspired by popular TV show The Great British Menu, Simon and his team also invited other local pubs and their chefs to take part in a six-course challenge. Each chef must create a dish with a hero ingredient, which is chosen by a randomizer app. The scoring is decided by the customers. These inclusive and partnered evenings have been a roaring success, with the competitions taking place over two halves in each pub’s kitchen, bringing new and engaged clientele to each pub’s door.

Another unique angle is Simon’s Spanish dishes, a nod to his wife Norma and her Galician family. They source Iberica Pork Presa for their mains, and their local butcher provides a British take on Galician Beef, which is produced using older dairy cows.

“The quality is coming through as the same, so locally we can achieve it without the airmiles. The beef tastes how it used to taste 50 years ago, when I was young. It has such a rich flavour, and it’s red rather than pink.”

Running The Greyfriar isn’t without its challenges, and for Simon, like everyone in the trade currently, rising energy prices loom large.

Simon switched to a new energy provider, SSE, and has seen a three-fold increase in his monthly bill from £375. However, he had faced a hike of astonishing proportions – £4,750 a month, before finding the SSE deal.

Action to cut electricity usage has seen investment in newer, more economic fridges and LED lighting, and Simon hopes to find new ways to insulate and protect the old pub this winter, while being mindful it’s in a conservation area.
Plans for the future include a refurb of the courtyard garden to transform a small space into a cosy feature, complete with planters and booth seating.

The pub is currently so busy that extending seating would help increase dining covers, as well as the wet trade. Simon says he doesn’t have a quiet day of the week, as they’ve managed to keep hold of their regular drinkers, who now bring in their families.

When thinking about creating a sustainable business for the future, Simon’s advice is simple.

“I refuse to close, other than for half a day at Christmas. Otherwise, we’re open. We keep our lights on all the time because I want to show that we are open. If you’re not open, you can’t make money. If you’re closed because you’re empty, you never have the opportunity to be full.”

He adds: “Sunday used to be quiet, one man and his dog, two dogs if we were lucky. Slowly but surely, we did things to build trade; we started a quiz and very gradually, we’ve become busier. We’re now at the point where you have to book a table for our quiz every week. It costs me £20 to do, as I’ll read it myself, but it’s much more lucrative than an empty bar.”


Diversification ideas for quieter times:

•  Quiz nights

•  Parent and baby mornings

•  Club meet-ups (day or evening)

•  Open mic night

•  Experimental food evenings

•  Outdoor pizza oven/braai

•  Visiting food van

•  Board games night

•  Bring your own vinyl night

Andy Burdon, MBII - Powder Monkey Brewing


In its first year of trading, Powder Monkey Brewing has exploded onto the local hospitality and leisure scene. Its historic and unique location offers an equally distinctive proposition to the ever-growing number of customers, while its beers are winning awards. CEO Andy Burdon FBII talks to BII News’ Editor Kate Oppenheim CBII about its success and future plans.
Being forced to temporarily close due to the discovery of World War II bombs comes with the territory for Andy Burdon FBII, as the boss of Powder Monkey Brewing, housed on the Navy’s historic Priddy’s Yard site in Gosport, Hampshire. 

Powder Monkey, the bygone name for someone who was employed on naval warships to carry the gunpowder from the magazine to the guns, is a clever moniker for a business located in premises that date back to 1878, and were used as stores for gunpower and shells up until the end of the Second World War. 

For Andy, his team and the group of investors and shareholders behind the brand, the creation of Powder Monkey has been a labour of love: from first discovering the site in 2019 and negotiating the lease in 2020, 
to beginning brewing and opening their bar in July 2021, with the first full month of trading happening in August 2021.

One year on, Andy is pleased to say: “It has been a great success story. We’ve transformed what was a derelict building and repurposed it into something that people want to come and visit. The building blows people away!”

Powder Monkey’s brewhouse is a 25hl, four vessel, steam-powered brewery, with 120hl of fermentation and beer storage facilities, along with its own keg and canning line. In August this year, it was flat out, says Andy, producing the equivalent of 4,500 cans per brew. In its first year, it has gone from a starting base of zero, to brewing three times a week. 

“We’re still relatively small, in brewing terms, but unusually for something our size, we are quite sophisticated, because we do our own canning and kegging on site,” says Andy, adding that brewery revenue doubled in Q2 this year over Q1.

Powder Monkey’s growth is fuelled by Andy and the team’s desire to take every opportunity to achieve organic, long-term growth, with a large focus on building the brand. It is involved with several organisations, including Hampshire Fare, which champions local produce, and BBQ Magazine, which promotes its two beers suited to flame-cooked food. 

“We’re doing some great things, such as supplying festivals and events, plus we sell our beers to local businesses, as well as through our bar, The Powder Monkey.”

The brewery is SIBA FSQ certified and is producing award-winning beer. Its BBQ Rye IPA won the silver prize in SIBA’s Regional Award 2021, while it achieved gold for its Explosion IPA. In September, the brewery launched the official beer for the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s famous warship, which sunk off Portsmouth in 1545 and is on display at the Historic Portsmouth Dockyard Museum, along with thousands of artefacts from the ship and its crew.

“Our Head Brewer, Mark Hamblin, spent a lot of time visiting the Mary Rose exhibition to research and understand what life was like on board, as he wanted to produce a beer that would be a modern interpretation of the smells and tastes, such as the spices, that they would have had on board at the time.” 

Mary Rose beer is a 4.6% ABV wheat-based keg and can beer, which has a herby, cracked pepper and smooth bready clove flavour. Available on draught and in can, it’s already being sold alongside other Powder Monkey beers in the shops and restaurants in the dockyard, with Andy in negotiations to make it more widely available in handpicked premises around the Portsmouth area. 

Back on the water-front at Gosport, The Powder Monkey bar offers customers the choice of indoor and outdoor areas, seating over 175 covers, and is open from midday to 10pm Sunday to Thursday and noon to 11pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The food offer, currently high quality imported German hotdogs and lamb koftas, which Andy describes as “soakage food”, is being evolved, by working with local and artisan suppliers. A new menu was launched for this summer. 

“We want to really open up our offer. We’re constantly on the look out for new opportunities and where we can add to our revenue stream – and food is part of that. We are also doing more events and live music, alongside our popular Sunday night bingo,” he says, explaining that they are very community-focussed and appeal to a broad customer base, from families to OAPs. With their naval connections, they also offer a veterans’ discount for members of the forces. 

“The Powder Monkey is not only a craft beer bar that attracts true beer lovers, but a community hub, somewhere everyone can relax, feel comfortable and enjoy great food, beer and cider in a spectacular building with great views of the sea.

“Our customers love us because we offer something different. The bar is right on the water and we sell our beer, plus ciders from Devon’s Sandford Orchards, while our spirits are crafted by local suppliers. We focus on selling a combination of local and non-mainstream products.”

Once a month, they host a local producers’ market at the brewery, with stalls selling quality, local produce from artisan bread to biltong and coffee. 

“We like to collaborate with local and other businesses and, as a result, we get a lot of referrals. We aim to build long-term relationships and we are always having conversations with people about how we can connect with new pubs, shops and small chains to stock our beer, as well as brewing beers as gifts for our corporate client base.

“Everything we do, we do in a customer committed and friendly way,” says Andy, adding that its regular brewery tours attract lots of new guests, who get to sample the beers at the brewery bar, which is housed inside the brewery. 

Andy also works closely with Portsmouth City Council and Gosport Borough Council, as well as spending lots of time networking with local organisations, including the university, which is developing an augmented reality project. In the near future, this will take visitors back in time to see the gunpowder store as it looked in Victorian times.  

As for the bombs that caused the recent closure of the bar, there were at least five unexploded Second World War shells accidentally uncovered by a JCB-driver, who was working on a nearby building. All were successfully defused, but it’s more proof, if any was needed, that Powder Monkey packs a powerful punch with its explosive brand and unique customer proposition.
Siba Awards
Powder Monkey Brewing Co achieved two wins at the SIBA Regional Bottle & Can awards 2021, with a silver for its BBQ Rye IPA, in the speciality medium to dark beers category, and a gold medal for its Explosion IPA, in the IPA category. 
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