Seven questions...with Tim Tomlinson

Owner of the White Cross pub, Lancaster, Tim Tomlinson (right)
Owner of the White Cross pub, Lancaster, Tim Tomlinson (right)

Tim is the landlord at the White Cross and The Merchants Pubs in Lancaster.

What was your first job?

Washing milk bottles for the local farm. It was £1 for about 3 hrs hot, chemical soaked work, but it sorted me out for Double Lollies and Refreshers for the week.

How do you relax after a hard day’s work?

If I finish before tea time I like to go for a run along the canal or up to the Memorial and take in the stunning views we are blessed with in Lancaster. This in turn means I’ve earned myself the chance to do a bit of competitor analysis and “product testing” around the other excellent hostelries in our city.

Proudest moment in business?

The 10 year party at the White Cross. It is less the fact that we have grown the pub 20 fold since taking it over in 2004, more the amazing warmth and appreciation of all the customers and staff from the last 10 years. When I changed career from steel sales to pubs my aim was to build a business that people would genuinely enjoy and return to and I hope in The White Cross and Merchants I have been somewhat successful in this.

Most embarrassing moment at work?

Through a series of misunderstandings I served a gent and his family, all celebrating his 70th birthday, a surprise chocolate cake. Equally surprised, but slightly less happy was the lady on the next table who had secretly brought the cake in for her mother’s birthday earlier that day and noticed the neighbouring customers devouring it.

What is your biggest vice?

Needless to say I do enjoy a cheeky drink from time to time and although I pride myself in running my business in as ethical way as possible I am perhaps not entirely accurate when filling out the “units of alcohol per week” box when I go to the docs.

Who is the biggest influence on your life?

My father. Kind, caring, altruistic and optimistic to a fault. If I am ever in a quandary I don’t think what would Jack Bauer do, its what would Dad do?

Word of business advice?

Look after your staff and they will look after you.I want people who work for me to have enjoyed and learned from their time in my pubs. If your staff feel valued, cared for and therefore happy it makes a huge difference to customer satisfaction, the quality of their work and ultimately how successful your business is.