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Bar Profile: May 2016 – Stokers Halt, Ballyhackamore

Phil Patterson, managing director of The Approachable Group

Phil Patterson, managing director of The Approachable Group, tells HRNI about his venue Stokers Halt in the East Belfast hospitality hotspot Ballyhackamore

Phil Patterson, managing director of The Approachable Group

Phil Patterson, managing director of The Approachable Group

 

 

WHAT IS ON OFFER AT the STOKERS HALT?

‘And so sings the soul’. Stokers has become a true independent pub; we don’t follow – we lead. Our approach has been to engage with our community on as many levels as possible; family fun Sundays, meet the brewer events, special events for local school teachers and PTA and sponsorship of local clubs. We host private events for business community and local charities. We are a pub that serves great food, not a restaurant in a pub; everything feels relaxed, informal and very approachable. We have a platform to give back and make our community a little better. We have 50-plus independent capped craft beers, a great draught selection from Diageo, wines from McAlindons, spirits from Bacardi Brown-Forman and Dillon Bass and food from Lynas.

 

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT FOCUS?

To continue on our journey of acquiring distressed or tired businesses, and keep building our portfolio of pubs. The Approachable Group has just signed a deal with East Side Partnership to run the East Side Visitors Center; we will be investing a lot more in East Belfast in 2016.

We have also just been named Best Pub in Antrim, and will be competing in the National Pub & Bar Awards grand final in May.

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BEST SELLERS AND PERSONAL FAVOURITES

Gin is in as they say. Bombay Sapphire is leading the way as a consumer lead bar call at the moment, and some local gins are gaining momentum like Shortcross and Jawbox. For me, I still love my Negroni; only one per week though.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU

My family – my very, very patient wife Sarah, six-year-old Ollie, three-year-old Darcy and our new arrival due May 26. Professionally, close to home, I admire the work of Jas Mooney at Botanic inns, Bill Wolsey at Beannchor, Willie Jack at the Duke of York, Billy Hastings of Hastings Hotels and of course  Michael Stewart, the bar czar. All I believe have demonstrated 100% commitment to their chosen projects. I am inspired by commitment, loyalty and honesty.

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS TRAINING?

Fundamental. We want all of our team to have a personality that fits with our ethos – approachable. The skills required to deliver a consistent product require investment from the brand and business owners. Our consumers are very demanding and will vote with their feet if we do not deliver. Time is the greatest gift; if we make time to train our staff, they pay us back with loyalty and passion.

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FUTURE PLANS

Deep breath! Convenience stores with Booker PLC, drive our logistics business growth into the licensed sector ( Apollo Global Logistics ), coffee shops, off sales and a roof garden on top of The Stokers Halt.

 

DESCRIBE the STOKERS HALT IN THREE WORDS

Pub that cares.

 

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