A 30-year career in the financial industry might not sound like the ideal experience for running a pub, but the new General Manager at The Limes in Faversham, Andy Hawkes, begs to differ.
Andy has joined Faversham-based family brewer Shepherd Neame, after 18 years with HSBC, and following a number of business roles, including financial advisor – and he says all of it helped prepare him for the hospitality move.
“The skills are all transferable,” he said. “Customers come in and I build a relationship with them, and then I sell them a range of products and services! It is about talking to people and building a relationship and making them want to come here. I am very customer service driven because of my background.”
But he added, “I do like pubs, and I like beer and wine and spirits… and I like talking! It’s a cliché, but I am a people person - I enjoy talking to people. So those skills are pretty important too.”
Andy, who lives in the town with his wife and stepson since his two grown-up children flew the nest, was Deputy Manager for eight months before being promoted to the General Manager’s position.
“I have been striving to find somewhere where I want to get up and go to work – and now I’ve found it!” he said.
He also has another card up his sleeve – that of resident quizmaster at The Limes. He has been wielding the questions for the past five years.
But to help him feel fully prepared for everything the role at the busy town centre pub might throw at him, he is also undertaking an apprenticeship in Hospitality Manager (Level 4), through the Shepherd Neame apprenticeship programme, which is run in conjunction with HIT Training.
“I may not look like your average apprentice, but my whole career has been about personal development, so why stop now?” he said. “I’m happy to get back to studying and learning.”
He is already feeling thoroughly at home at The Limes, and so is his dog, four-year-old Woody the bouncy cockapoo, who has his own Instagram account and who is popular with regulars when he pops in. Dogs are allowed in the front bar area of The Limes.
Though he loves the pub as it is – he was a regular long before he considered working there - he would like to increase the use of the upstairs function room and is looking forward to improving the outside garden area at the rear.
“I do absolutely love the job,” said Andy. “I like to be busy, which is a good job, as I think we are definitely going to be one of the busiest pubs in the town.” Andy is one of more than 65 apprentices embarking on hospitality qualifications with Shepherd Neame this year.
Apprenticeship Lead, David Everett, said, “It is great to see that our industry is pulling in fresh faces like Andy from other sectors, who can bring a wealth of experience to the role. As a company we are committed to developing and investing in our people, and our newly launched apprenticeship programme is a key part of that effort.
'We are working with HIT Training to offer flexible, bespoke courses to suit our people and business alike, and have been really pleased by the response so far. I wish Andy every success in his career with us.”
In the very heart of Faversham and a stone’s throw from Shepherd Neame’s brewery, The Limes serves great local beer, a range of craft beers and lagers, and serves up a menu of freshly made pub classics, including its famous burgers, using locally sourced ingredients where possible.