Owain Jones, General Manager at The Fishes Pub, Oxford, explains how he went from part-time waiter to award-winning publican in his career with Peach Pubs. First published by The Caterer.
Sitting at the Hampshire Four Seasons collecting my acorn award is one of the greatest moments in my career. But more than that, it is another amazing chapter in the story of my time in Oxford, especially as I have come home to The Fishes, where I started my management career.
At 19 I was on a work placement from Oxford Brookes University at the Cardiff Marriott, under Operations Director Gareth Banner, who had just won his acorn award. Here I am now, 10 years later, reminiscing with Gareth about my time as a fresh faced waiter under his management. I now have my own placement student working under me, making the same mistakes, learning the same important lessons.
For those of you who know me as the jolly landlord swanning around our beautiful pub, it may come as a slight surprise that I have a university education from one of the top – if not the top – hospitality schools in the country.
A decade ago, around this time of year, I was finishing my A levels and looking to start my new life in Oxford. And the reason for my journey starting here was Oxford Brookes.
I originally had aspirations to study politics or English, but my dad – who would pick me up from my weekend waiting job and see me full of energy – recognised my youthful excitement as a future passion. He went about exploring the options for studying hospitality, and one university shone out above the rest: Oxford Brookes.
Four years here not only gave me a degree which I am very proud of, but it put me in a room with Lee Cash, which changed my life. I was initially signed up to work in 5-star hotels with Marriott, but then I met this charismatic, energetic, passionate man, and everything changed. Two days later I started working at The Fishes, and here I am today, still with this great company, back in this amazing pub.
With Peach I have been to Paris, Spain and Kenya. I have competed at the restaurant show, and now work with colleagues who have won Acorns, Craft Guild of Chef awards, and of course Cateys.
The reason I list these awards isn’t for my own vanity. Firstly it is through pride for my colleagues, and also through gratitude for how many amazing opportunities this company presents its team members. But I also list these as many people starting off in their careers in the hospitality industry may turn their noses up at the pub game, perhaps seeing pulling pints as beneath them. Hopefully these awards may open their eyes a bit to the amazing world of Peach.
What Peach give you as a young manager is the tools to run a business, the culture to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, and encouragement to strive to be the best you can, hosting dinner parties everyday, and being a pillar in your community.
I am one of the lucky ones who loves his job, his team and his new home. But that isn’t all luck: a lot of thanks has to go to my family, my Peach Family, my Brookes Family, and my Oxford family, and may this only be the beginning of my love affair with this awesome city.
Peach are always looking for talented staff. If you’re interested in joining our team, visit http://www.peachpubs.com/join-our-team/