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The Unicorn Inn Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire

A city centre oasis welcoming people to The Unicorn Inn.

The next stop on our Make Your Mark tour is The Unicorn Inn, where licensee Tracey shared her story, from a customer to licensee spanning 20 years.

Located in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, The Unicorn Inn is special. A small venue packed with character. At the helm is Tracey, a brilliant licensee and local citizen, committed to doing her bit for the community and the environment while running a successful pub business.

As we walked in the door, we were struck by the cosy, welcoming atmosphere. And this isn’t by chance.

“My goal for the pub when I took it on was to make a warm and friendly, safe, venue where everyone could come together make friendships and make it as environmentally friendly as possible.”

The more we talked, the clearer that goal became.

Little details add up to a great pub experience.

What we learned from Tracey is that the little details make a huge difference. For instance, she serves the thriving local theatre community with thoughtful details. A fan of live theatre herself, she understands what customers are looking for when they factor in a quick visit to the pub around their theatre trip, Tracey tailors her service and pub experience to meet their specific needs. The ability to pre-order interval drinks. Having the drinks ready and waiting at the bar for customers at the beginning of the interval. And giving people a heads up when it’s almost time for the second half of the show. Sounds simple but these little moments really make all the difference to customers’ experiences.

If you care about the environment (and your bills) there are steps you can take.

The Unicorn Inn’s sustainability credentials are a testament to her commitment to making the pub as eco-friendly as possible. The Unicorn Inn is a proud member of The Green Pub Guide, the directory that aims to showcase the greenest pubs, bars and restaurants across the United Kingdom. Not only has she had SmartDispense® installed - and you can read more about that here – she’s looked across her entire business to make small tweaks that add up to make a significant difference. Beyond the obvious commitments to recycling, Tracey switched to energy-efficient LED bulbs throughout the pub. She considers everything, right down to the beautiful bee- and insect- friendly hanging baskets with flowers grown by her mum, that make a gorgeous focal point for customers, providing a haven in the city centre.

There are lots of little steps you can take to make your pub more sustainable and energy efficient. Providing ramekins of sauces over single use sachets. Keeping doors closed to keep the heat in. And reminding staff to turn gas off in the kitchen when not in use. The BII has some great resources to help licensees and staff members you can access them here. According to their research, did you know that switching from halogen to LED lightbulbs could save you £18.50 per bulb, per year? That’s significant!

What’s great about The Unicorn Inn, is that it shows that reducing environmental impact doesn’t mean compromising on the pub experience. We know that SmartDispense ® produces great quality pints everytime. And Tracey is frequently told by customers that her beer is the best in town. But the addition of hanging baskets and more innovative lighting means that she’s creating a more welcoming experience, rather than taking anything away.

You don’t need to know everything about running a pub, but you need to be willing to learn.

Starting as a cleaner at the pub, Tracey has worked through various roles at The Unicorn Inn over 20 years, eventually taking on a lease of her own to become a licensee. To develop into a great licensee takes hard work and commitment. We’re delighted to have supported Tracey on her journey from writing her business plan, setting up the necessary systems, hiring staff and growing the business.

Tracey had a clear vision for the type of pub she wanted to create. We’ve just helped her bring that vision to life.

“It’s just been a long-term love affair with this pub for me,” she told us. Judging by the 5* ratings The Unicorn Inn receives on Trip Advisor, customers love the experience.

“An oasis on Picadilly”, reviewed one customer. Tracey, what a fantastic pub you’ve created!

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