The Rusty Bicycle & The Rickety Press
The Rusty Bicycle, Oxford
Chris Manners is the landlord of two Arkell's pubs: The Rusty Bicycle and The Rickety Press, both in Oxford and which he runs with his business partner Leo Johnson.
Chris took over the Rusty Bicycle in January 2009. Leo joined the following year and in May this year, the duo took over the running of The Rickety Press, which Arkell’s has just bought and refurbished.
Chris entered the industry because it’s sociable and people-orientated. He says he hasn’t been disappointed but admits it’s a lot less glamorous than anticipated.
"We were naïve at the beginning, pulling pints is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the day-to-day running of the business which takes time, that and the cleaning and planning."
Would he change what he does?
"No – we enjoy being our own bosses. We’re in charge of our own destiny and it's sociable – although we're always the hosts and not the guests!”
As tenants, Chris and Leo are financially responsible for the business itself, but Arkell's take care of the fabric of the building. "We bought the inventory when we moved in, but if we move on we’ll sell it to the incoming landlord," explains Chris. "It is reassuring to know that if there is a leak in the roof or a problem with the building, Arkell’s take responsibility – just like a residential landlord."
Being a landlord is a fine and rewarding job, says Chris, and it helps that the Arkell’s directors are approachable. "We had a lot of help and they provide us with regular information, but ultimately it's up to us,” he says. His advice before taking a tenancy is to do as much research and planning as possible.
Both he and Leo like the fact that there are no 'regional managers' between them and Arkell's. "It helps that we know everyone at the brewery, from top to bottom – it makes for a much better working relationship," he added.