The George at Burpham named Best Community Pub in Sussex

The George at Burpham is the true definition of a community pub, owned by the very people who drink and eat in it. Recently scooping the Best Community Pub accolade at the Sussex Life Awards 2015, we meet the manager championing this popular country pub’s role in village life, Martin Bear 

Tell us about The George, your team and the experience you can expect to find if you visit.

The George at Burpham is a country pub situated in the small village of Burpham, a few miles outside Arundel in the heart of the South Downs. We are lucky to have been bought by the local villagers and are now owned by those who care most about our future. We have a friendly and strong team, with a mixture of personalities, who ultimately care about what we do. Our two head chefs are very experienced. They love the freedom of the menu and the challenge the seasonal availability of local produce creates. All together this combines to create a home away from home kind of ambience that we find our guests and team appreciate.

You’ve just scooped the Best Community Pub award. What does this accolade mean to you?

If we could have chosen a category to be nominated in, it would have been this. The fact that the people that have visited us have taken the time to vote for us is an accolade in itself. The other finalists in this category were of a very high standard, so winning against such strong competition is humbling. This award means that we have delivered on our objective of ‘by the locals, for the locals, of the locals, but welcome to all’.

What does it mean to be a community pub in today’s society?

It means a lot to have the support of our residents and the 12 local families that have a vested interest in our company. Likewise to support the community in return. Amongst other routes, we donate to the cricket team and provide satellite broadband for the villagers to use when theirs is slow. A locally owned community pub is a tradition that is fading fast and with chains taking over most pubs, it means we have to be on the ball and react to our guests’ expectations. Standards have to be high and the product has to be great.

Does the traditional pub have a future?

If the pub delivers, then yes.

What trends are making their way into your pub and onto your menus?

Well we ask or guests to leave their comments and if viable we adopt them. At present, we are very wine and gin orientated and people seem to like to try anything local where they can. Food is more seasonal, but fresh fish and great burgers are always a must.

Who or what inspires you and the way you run your pub?

Our guests leaving with a smile on their face has always been my driver and I know my team feel the same.

What sorts of drinks do you stock behind your bar and what are your bestsellers?

Wine and gin are two of our bigger sellers. Local bitters and lagers come in a close third. Quality fruit juices that are not so common (Bumbleberry) are also fairly well received.

Have you noticed any change in your customers’ behaviour or purchasing habits?

It goes with the weather really, otherwise no.

What features do you believe are essential for creating a memorable, recommendable experience and how do you achieve this?

The welcome sets the mood, if this is wrong then it's downhill from there. Then comes the taste of the food coupled with attention to detail. When people realise the food is good and the service is right, they feel most at ease. These are therefore our goals every time we open our doors.

What’s your fruit juice personality?

Prune juice. I'm dry, quite sweet and getting wrinkly.

Frobishers Juices continues to support the Sussex Life Awards and this year sponsored Restaurant of the Year. View the full list of winners.

12 October 2015