Rob was a senior director with several global organizations. His role before taking on the Waiting Room was as a member of the senior management team for a large European automotive supplier. Sue was the deputy head for a residential special school based in Lancashire.
The idea was to develop a MicroPub selling real ales, quality wines and ciders in Whitby, North Yorkshire. This would enable Rob and Sue to work together in a business where they had a lot of customer interaction. A MicroPub is defined as a small, one roomed pub which has no music, TVs or electronic entertainment of any kind. A true Micropub also does not sell lager or spirits. The idea is to get back to what pubs are about which is somewhere to meet old and new friends and talk!
The economic climate for starting a business selling alcohol is not good in the UK. Pubs are going out of business on a daily basis and Whitby already has over 30 licensed premises including a Wetherspoons selling cut-price beers. There is also the stigma that new seaside businesses tend to fail more than other startups
In establishing a Micropub, Rob and Sue wanted to change the landscape a little in Whitby and get away from the 'drinking barn/music venue' culture which prevailed in the town. They wanted to create somewhere were people felt safe, could meet others and enjoy good products.
The key challenge was to find a suitable property in the town where they could operate their business which was big enough to be viable, but also small and central enough to operate effectively and draw customers in. The opportunity came when a small picture gallery in the main railway station building became available. Rob and Sue could see that with a few changes, they could establish a friendly bar area and create a small cellar to store their products before sale. The name The Waiting Room was an obvious one given its location. A secondary benefit to this location is the fact that the North York Moors Steam Railway begins at Whitby and they could leverage the tourist footfall to this experience.
The key benefit of working with Yorkshire in Business was in developing a robust business plan for the project which allowed us to see where our break-even point was and confirmed that the additional costs related to the property identified were far outweighed by the additional revenue opportunities.