Bar Profile October 2016 – Blakes of the Hollow, Enniskillen
Mark Edwards, general manager of Blakes of the Hollow, talks to HRNI
Mark Edwards, general manager of Blakes of the Hollow
TELL US ABOUT THE BAR
Blakes of the Hollow is built around a Victorian bar, nestled in the middle of town. The Victorian bar is an institution in the town, and infamous around the world having appeared in the Rough Guides. The pub dates back to 1887 and William Blake’s name has been above the door since 1929. The owners had a vision to expand it, and in the 1990s opened it up into different bar areas for different age groups. There is the Atrium bar over two floors, and Level Seven is for college age drinkers with music events and private parties. We also have the very successful restaurants Café Merlot and, for fine dining, Restaurant No6. We were very fortunate to receive Game of Thrones door number four, and have seen good footfall from European tourists to see it. We were also delighted to win Northern Ireland Pub of the Year at the National Pub & Bar awards in London in June.
HOW DO YOU DRIVE SALES?
Generally we concentrate on staff training, and developing staff confidence to engage with customers and give them a warm Irish welcome. They are trained to upsell drinks, and it’s all about product presentation so the glassware and serve have to be perfect. We work with the drinks companies on perfect serves and developing drinks, and have staff development days with the companies.
WHAT MAKES IT AN IRISH WHISKEY BAR?
First of all, the bar is a traditional Irish bar with old whiskey barrels mounted behind the bar. It really lends itself to the premium Irish whiskey range we stock in partnership with Dillon Bass, which extends right up to Redbreast 12, 15 and 21 year olds, and Jameson Distiller’s Safe, Cooper’s Croze and Blender’s Dog. We’re currently working towards a Whiskey Club with our regulars, to drive footfall and sales. We already have tasting notes on cards, and a Whiskey of the Month, which are good for steering customers towards a whiskey they haven’t tried before. We’re not afraid of samples, and letting customers try something to steer them up into a higher end product.
WHAT ARE YOUR BEST-SELLING BRANDS, AND PERSONAL FAVOURITES?
The Red Breast range would be very popular with customers, as would Distiller’s Safe, Cooper’s Croze and Blender’s Dog, and my personal favourite is Jameson Caskmates. I find it really smooth, and would highly recommend it.
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