The inside scoop: what it's like to be back working in a pub after Covid-19

Steph  Baker our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 15 July 2020

It’s been just over three months since the doors of our pubs, restaurants and bars closed and our teams hung up their chef whites and poured their last pints.  The moment our government announced that we could reopen, the M&B family got busy preparing our pubs and restaurants so we were ready to safely welcome our guests again.

We spoke to Casey who works as waiting staff at one of our businesses to find out what her time away from the pub has been like and how she feels after her first week back to work. Here’s the inside scoop:

What role do you do and how long have you been with M&B?

For the last three years, I’ve worked for M&B as a Team Member at the Plough in Harrow, which is one of our Premium Country Pubs. The flexibility of this job has allowed me to gain some great experience in the hospitality industry whilst studying for my degree at university.

What did you miss most while away from work?

Just being productive, admittedly I fell into a bit of a rut during the lockdown and felt like I would accomplish nothing with my days, there are only so many zoom quizzes and Netflix series you can watch. Being back at work, back with my team and seeing the regulars has really helped me to mentally get out of that rut and get back to my old self.

How did you feel coming back to work?

At first, I was nervous and quite anxious at the idea of coming back to my restaurant job, but once I was made aware of the new procedures that have been put in place and I saw them in action I was instantly eased. M&B has been really supportive throughout the lockdown, sharing regular updates on what’s happening within the business and giving us all the information we need on new procedures to make the return to work as seamless as possible.

What was the first order you took when your pub reopened?

It was a table of two of our regulars who shared that they couldn’t wait to come back to see us. They ordered a Dirty Burger with added halloumi and 7oz Fillet Steak, medium with beef dripping sauce and a side of onion rings. Our regulars probably know the menu as well as we do and know how to put together a mouth-watering meal.

What has it been like working in a pub since they reopened?

I thought I would have forgotten how to do everything, having been away from my waiting job for such a long time, but once I stepped back into the pub everything came flooding back. It has been so nice to be reunited with the team and the transition has been much easier than I thought it would be. Every single guest has been lovely and really understanding which has made us even happier to be back.

What has been changed in your pub post lockdown?

There has been a lot to learn and get to grips with since we have reopened our Premium Country Pubs, but I’m grateful that these new measures are in place because it makes the pub feel like a safe place to work. The changes have been carefully planned so that you still get that warm and inviting pub feel and we have had lots of positive feedback from our guests which has been lovely!

A couple of the main changes are…

  • We ask all our guests to sanitise their hands when they arrive, and we explain the new safety measures to them.
  • We do more detailed cleaning throughout the day for example, after each guest leaves we clean all table surfaces, table legs, chairs and chair legs before the next guests are seated.
  • All our menus are now paper disposal ones, they are thrown away after our guests have used them.
  • There is social distancing throughout the pub – our table layout has been changed to ensure our tables are at a safe social distance and there are social distancing signs around the pub to remind everybody of the new measures.

How do you feel after your first week back and what’s been your favourite part?

It’s really good to be back, the pub feels really safe and our guests are happy. It’s almost like there wasn’t a 3-month break (although my feet are adjusting more slowly to the new routine)! Being reunited with the team and welcoming our regulars back to the pub has easily been the best part of coming back to the work. We’ve kept in touch virtually as a team during the lockdown, but nothing beats seeing each other face to face.

Find out more about #lifeatmab

We’re over the moon to have welcomed Casey back but the since the safety of our guests and staff is our number one priority we’re making sure that any changes made are in line with government guidelines. It’s the hard work of Casey and the rest of the team that has helped us provide a brilliant service for our guests, where everyone is safe, comfortable and reunited with their perfectly cooked 7oz Fillet Steak. Want to join the M&B family? Explore our bar jobs or find your perfect opportunity by searching our head chef jobs.

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4 reasons why you're never too old to do an apprenticeship

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Apprenticeships were once just for 16-24 year olds so when you think of the programme chances are you immediately think of young adults who are fresh out of school. But not long ago the maximum age limit was scrapped and just last year 46% of apprentices in the UK were over 25-years-old - a huge jump in the numbers. We’re here to tell you that the programme is for people of all backgrounds and experience levels and dish up four reasons why you’re never too old to do an apprenticeship.It’s not about age, it’s about your attitudeIn case we haven’t made it clear already, we’ll say it one more time – apprenticeships aren’t just for young people. These programmes give an equal opportunity to everyone, offering the chance to train in a new area of work and start earning a living – one of the five reasons you’ll love an apprenticeship with M&B. So, what’s your story? Maybe you’ve been switching between industries to find what you’re good at or you fancy a challenge. Whatever you background, you’ll be happy to know that it won’t affect your chances of getting onto an apprenticeship. All you need is to be a team player, have a can-do attitude and a willingness to learn. You can rediscover your passion for learningIf you’ve been out for education or in a job for some time, chances are you won’t have been flexing your brain muscles as much as you could have been. You can still thrive in an apprenticeship and see it as your chance to rediscover your passion for learning. You’ll have better time-management skills and balancing your shifts with coursework will come much easier to you. Let’s be honest, classroom learning isn’t for everyone and if you’re anything like our apprentice Hannah then it can be a frustrating way to learn. An apprenticeship programme might be the perfect choice for you, placing you in control of how and when you learn.You’ll bring a unique outlookTeams that are made up of people from different areas, genders and with one age gap of 20 years are 87% better at making decisions – that’s an impressive difference but what makes them a dream team? Well, people from different backgrounds have their own way of doing things – a unique outlook. Those extra years may be just what an employer is looking for to add a little diversity to the team, so don’t let it put you off from applying! After all, they do say that with age comes wisdom.Your communication skills are invaluableCommunication is one of the top transferrable skills that employers look out for when searching for the next member of their team. So, you’re a great talker and could give any salesperson a run for their money, but when it comes to communication it’s also about being a great listener. Yes, some people are naturals when it comes to communication but for most people, it’s a skill that comes with time. The great news for you is that those extra years can make you more qualified for an apprenticeship programme.Fancy taking on a new challenge?Some of our most talented and ambitious colleagues join the company through an apprenticeship programme and we’re looking for more fun and driven people to join the M&B team. If you’re ready to serve up some success, a bar and waiting apprenticeship could be for you, or apply for our chef apprenticeships and show us you know your way around a kitchen. And that’s not all we’ve got – our management apprenticeships are the perfect opportunity to show you’re a born leader.

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Hannah completed her Level 2 Bar and Waiting apprenticeship at the Crown & Anchor – a Sizzling Pub in Birmingham. Sizzling is one of the 13 brands here at Mitchells & Butlers and we’re proud to share Hannah’s experience working there. No matter whether you’re fresh out of school or want to retrain in the hospitality industry, Hannah explains why an apprenticeship could be right for you:“I wanted to learn and gain qualifications so I could progress for the future”For Hannah, getting on-the-job experience and a qualification under her belt was the main motivation to do an apprenticeship. Our programmes are designed to put you straight to work and give you valuable experiences from the very first day. Not to mention you’ll have fun and enjoy the support of your new work family – one of the five reasons you’ll love an apprenticeship with M&B.“I don’t like being in classrooms, they get me really frustrated”Our apprenticeship programmes recognise that every person learns differently and for a lot of people classrooms learning comes with its challenges. Each of our three apprenticeships are split between coursework and practical learning – so all the information you read you’ll then get to apply on your next shift. If you know that you learn best by doing, this is experiential learning and means an apprenticeship is made for you!“After my apprenticeship, I can go on to do level 3 which is more of the management side”Hannah tells us that one of the best bits about her apprenticeship was knowing that there was a higher qualification available after. Clearly, Hannah’s very career driven and if you too then an apprenticeship is the perfect opportunity to pick up some transferrable skills and earn while you learn.“Managing my own pub is my dream job”At M&B, we love to hear that our colleagues have big dreams and we’re beyond happy that our apprenticeship programmes will help them reach their long-term goals. We’ll invest in your training and development right from the beginning and you’ll have a trainer to guide you every step of the way. And if you don’t know what your dream job is or have a clue where you want to be in five years, don’t worry. We’ll help you figure out what your strengths are, which pub and restaurant job is right for you and show you how you can carve out a rewarding career at M&B. “At my age, I didn’t think I could do [an apprenticeship]”Hannah is 22-years-old but her preconception of an apprenticeship is that you have to be fresh out of school to do one. If you thought the same as Hannah you’re not alone, many people believe these programmes are made for young people and they wouldn’t gain as much from it if they’ve already started working. So, we’re setting the record straight right here – apprenticeships are for people of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels. And, with around 75% of apprentices remaining in employment after completing the programme, it’s a great way to kick-start your career.Begin your apprenticeship journey with M&BWe’re looking for more ambitious people like Hannah to join our apprenticeship programmes and with over 1,600 businesses around the UK M&B are sure to have the local job you’re looking for. Join us an apprentice and you’ll gain a qualification and a second family too! View our apprenticeships here or to hear more stories like Hannah’s, check our apprenticeship experiences.

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