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, 52, 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.
“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,” says 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.”