Our regular column in which you discover the faces and stories behind the pub sign. This month we’ve been chatting to Barbara who owns The Langton Arms at Tarrant Monkton nr. Blandford.
How did you end up at The Langton Arms?
It was ‘our’ village pub, just down the road from where we lived on the family farm, when it went into receivership – we bought it from Barclays Bank in 1993. It felt like a good partner business opportunity for the farm – plus it was where we used to go courting in our Young Farmers days!
Obviously, we were very naive, buying into a business we knew nothing about, but 30 years on here we are still!
What’s your favourit local place to visit on an afternoon off?
I love going to the seaside! Swanage during lockdown has been wonderful. The views over Corfe Castle, Arne Nature Reserve and Old Harry’s Rocks are truly breathtaking – you never really appreciate what is on your own doorstep. Plus you can’t beat good local fish & chips on the beach, enjoying them with only the seagulls as competition!
Tell us about your pandemic?
During lockdown, a lot of organisation had to be put into place – we pivoted focus, and concentrated our efforts on the farm shop, which remained open. We kept two chefs very busy cooking pies and ready meals for our farm shop. All our staff helped to run our farm shop, organising the queuing public, and helping us sell plants for Baskets and Blooms Nurseries, who were going to stop producing and plough their plants into the soil. We helped them to keep growing, and for people to continue to enjoy their gardens in that much needed lockdown period.
Flour and yeast became our best sellers as everyone at home became bakers! We were able to keep supplies going when the supermarkets could not.
What’s been your biggest challenge since taking over? What are you proud of?
In 30 years of owning and running the pub, there have been many challenges; but I feel our main challenge has been the competition of the supermarkets – as it has been for many other businesses on the high street. Their cheap sales of alcohol and soft drinks, as well as their ‘meal deals’ for home consumption… we just cannot compete with their prices. I am most proud of still being here after 30 years! Surviving a fire in 2004 and rebuilding my business. The smoking bans also came into place, and all pubs had to reinvent themselves as food- led venues.
What part of the pub is your absolute favourite?
We have so many lovely little areas, two small bars which are part of the 17th century old building. The converted stable is part of our 50-seater restaurant with a conservatory. Our function room still has a fully operational skittle alley in it – but the best story of all is it in an old Nissan hut from World War 2, brought down and erected by the
soldiers stationed at Blandford camp. Their beer was in big baths, and they used to scoup their beer mugs in!
Which dish is your most popular?
We’re all about the beef! It is from our own family farm in the next village. Our steak pie dish was created 25 years ago and is still the same recipe. Our steaks are matured on the bone for 28 days and our animals are all grass fed to give the full old-fashioned flavour (even our burgers are to die for!)
So what’s next – do you have big plans on the horizon?
We have six guest rooms, a function/meeting room, and great gardens. We would like to rebuild our business after
covid and make the most of the UK holiday market that will help to re-boost our economy. Our customers need the Great British Pub – it is the hub of the community. I believe if nothing else we need to enjoy the very simple things in life; great family, great friends & great food.