All our startups are mighty, even the ones that run on a smaller scale. This includes a pub with a difference - The Dodo Micropub, run by entrepreneur Lucy Do. The Dodo has one room, making it a cosier and more intimate venue than your local drinking establishment. We caught up with Lucy to find out more about how she runs her micropub.
Tell us a little about your business and where the idea came from
My business is The Dodo Micropub, a community-focused, one-room pub that serves a constantly rotating line up of real ale and craft beer. I have other drinks too, real cider, organic wine and prosecco - but there are no TV screens, fruit machines and no music. Instead, the conversation is the main form of entertainment. I got the idea to open up my own micropub in Hanwell, Ealing when I went to my very first micropub in 2014 and thought "Why aren't there any of these in West London?"
What does a typical day look like?
I check in on work emails in the morning and go over the schedule of the day - what's a priority on the to-do list, have I got any meetings at the pub, what deliveries are coming in. Take the dog for a walk and then head to the premises for about 11am to get ready for opening at 12pm. Weekdays from Tuesday - Thursday we have lunchtime trading hours so I'm serving beer and talking to patrons from 12pm to 2pm. We then close until the evening trade begins at 5pm, so I use this time in-between to do some paperwork, approach new suppliers and feed myself ready for the busy evening ahead. There isn't really a typical day in a micropub as the customer dynamic, means it's always different which I love.
How do you deal with the usual pub logistics?
I have to plan weekly and be very organised about what's coming in and out of the pub in terms of beer barrels. I have a temperature-controlled cellar room with space for 15 barrels and then the empties are placed under my cleverly-designed bench seating until the breweries come and pick them up again (sometimes they don't pick them up for a while). Some empty barrels are also used as tables and stools! I have no space for a kitchen so I've had to source a varied selection of snacks to complement the drinks - they are pre-packed and easily stored in a laundry basket under the counter!
What is the best thing about running a micropub? What is the worst?
The best thing about running a micropub is the people aspect. I love that there is naturally an atmosphere that means locals are having conversations with neighbours they would have otherwise not met and got to know in a standard pub setting. Seeing people enjoying your space and having conversations while enjoying a good craft beer is a simple but gratifying pleasure.
The worst thing about running a micropub can be the long hours. I do get tired by the end of my week - I'm only human after all and I no longer have a 9-5 for just five days a week. However working for myself and not having to deal with office politics massively overrides this. Plus when I'm serving and chatting to people, it never feels like work. It is genuinely a pleasure.
Is there a strong micropub community and do you specifically seek out smaller suppliers too?
There is a really strong micropub community and other micropub owners were incredibly helpful and supportive when I got going on my startup journey. There's definitely a sense of "We're all in it together," which is really refreshing. We even have our own association - The Micropub Association! Being a micro-business I definitely seek out smaller suppliers. I only really source beers from micro-breweries and work with some great startups that I really admire.
Do you want to scale up someday and how will you do this?
The long term plan is to scale up. The first step in this will be to employ staff at The Dodo Micropub so I can then have more time for strategy and planning. Ideally there will be two sites in the next five years and when the time comes to make that step I'll do exactly what I did when I started plotting The Dodo Micropub - talk to people who have been there and are doing what I want to do.