They say 'good things come to those who wait', but they never say how bloody maddening the waiting can be...
Now though, the end really is in sight with the Alford destined to re-open its doors on Monday 22 August. Ever since the fire back at the beginning of the year we've been working our socks off to get to this point and now we feel like kids counting down the sleeps to Christmas.
This last week has been frenetic with all manner of trades in and out of the Alford's door. Once our amazing builders confirmed the date it's been a mad, crazy dash to get over the line.
Over the years, we've put the Alford through a fair few refurbishments - often shutting down for up to two weeks. It's the only way to give the pub a proper refresh in our view. But this unforced shutdown has allowed us to take an even longer, harder look at how we operate and make some improvements. Obviously, we've had a full redecoration throughout the bar and dining room - although it will still feel very much like your Alford, but with new carpets, paintwork, soft furnishings and curtains. Although underneath the new livery there are lots of subtle changes that we've been itching to introduce since we don't know when.
For instance, having to run the cable for the Christmas tree lights on the terrace through the window in the bar area: not any more we don't, because there's a power socket outside now. We can't tell how unbelievably happy that makes us. And while we're on the subject of windows, the sashes at the front now open top and bottom, or in other words they now work as sashes should do, by regulating the flow of warm and cool air. Again, a joy.
New electrics have also meant new wiring for things like tills, data and telephone lines. It has also meant the introduction of ... wait for it ... ONLINE BOOKING! Seriously, just saying the words ONLINE BOOKING! Brings a tear of joy to our eyes. It really is a giant leap for Alford-kind and one which will let you, our lovely customers, book your tables more easily and efficiently, while allowing our amazing staff to look after everyone in the pub without having to answer the phone all the time.
Speaking of staff, we're pleased as punch that many of the Alford's happy crew will be back with us on opening day. The closure has been tough for them too, with a great deal of adjustment to be made. Fortunately, our insurance allowed us to retain the team while we went through the rebuild. Inevitably, there have been some changes - most notably with new (ish) general manager, Darren Johnston rejoining the fold. Having Darren return to us is the equivalent of Peggy Mitchell walking back into the Queen Vic (although he might not like the analogy) and again, we're happy as Larry to see him. In the kitchen, chef Jamie is also keen to take up the knives with a largely unchanged team. Out front, our waiting staff will include plenty of familiar faces, including the return of Ash and Zoe to complete our dream team.
There are other changes of course, but they are the subtle ones you're not meant to notice. For instance the upstairs of the Alford has been rejigged in terms of office and staff space, which has no bearing on the operation of the pub, but just makes our lives a little easier. And, we also have loads of insulation to ensure you are toastie come winter time.
Downstairs though is where the real action is and we hope you love the new colourways in the curtains and soft furnishings. Finding fabric designs that have a long lifespan is always tricky, fortunately we really lucked out and found what we were looking for at first attempt. It's very Alford-esque (which is good), but also a fresh take and sustainable (which is even better). We hope you like it too.
So, we're almost there. On Monday we fling open our doors and get back to what we do best. It's been a long few months, but, we know you will bear with us if we drop the odd ball or, perish the thought, run out of bubble and squeak in the first few days as we get back up to speed!
And yes, we really can't wait.
With best wishes,
David, Becky and Darren
NB: To book online just click here