The Dickens Bar & Inn in Scarborough’s Huntriss Row has beaten off competition from around the UK to be crowned Sports Pub of the Year in national awards run by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, which has 2,700 pubs.
Licensee Kathleen Howard received the coveted prize at a gala awards ceremony at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, from comedian and actor Ed Byrne last night.
The judges were looking for the perfect place to watch sports with atmosphere and comfort a key factor in their decision.
They were bowled over by the warm welcome they received at the family-run pub, not just by the staff but by locals too, who they noted ranged from mixed groups and couples to families and pensioners.
The quick attentive service, fun staff and excellent sound and vision all scored highly.
Viewing is throughout the pub on six 42 inch high definition screens, a large projector screen and two booths with their own TVs seating six showing BT Sports and Sky.
The judges were impressed by how former travel agent, Kathleen, with the help of her parents, took the pub from rock bottom to a thriving business and made it as one local told a judge “the place to watch live sports in Scarborough”.
A £250,000 refurbishment in 2016 kickstarted the process.
It saw the pub completely overhauled from top to toe, reconfigured and its name changed from The Pickwick Inn to The Dickens Bar & Inn.
The transition to an award winner, Kathleen believes, is because the family works alongside staff in the business every day and because of their high staff retention.
It is also achieved by focusing on high levels of customer service, bringing into the business a lot of the experience she gained as a travel agent, such as daily checks on all aspects of the business, from lighting and screens to sound and heating.
Kathleen said: “Winning the award has put a smile on all of our faces.
“We’re thrilled. It is a real morale boost for staff to realise that what they do day in and day out is recognised.
“It makes everyone proud to work for The Dickens Bar & Inn and demonstrates that hard work does pay off.
“I believe you have to be passionate about what you do.
“So, thank you to staff and to our customers, who play their part in creating the fun and friendly atmosphere that helped us win the award.”
It’s a great start of the year for Kathleen, who has also been nominated for a Scarborough News 2019 Star Women in Business Award.
Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars’ managing director, said: “When it comes to watching live sports in a pub, it’s all about creating a fantastic atmosphere.
“Kathleen more than achieves this by recruiting and training the right staff to provide high levels of service and by creating a warm and welcoming environment that means people want to stay on when the sports over.
“She and her family have given the pub a new lease of life and made it a destination for sports and live entertainment in the centre of Scarborough.
“What’s more she’s tripled business at the pub since 2016 ensuring its long-term future.
“Many congratulations and best wishes for the future.”