Published on April 2, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour


Stars in their own right

Two Newcastle venues have comes top in their categories in a nationwide awards scheme run by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars.

Tomahawk steakhouse and bar on the city’s Quayside – the one with the big cow out the front – opened just 12 months ago and claimed the Best Food award with high scores achieved across the board for food quality, customer service, comfortable surroundings, and the pub’s marketing all scoring 10 out of 10.

The judges were impressed by the warm welcome, excellent dishes and the outstanding speed of service, especially at a time when the pub restaurant was really busy.

Meanwhile in South Gosforth, the Brandling Villa’s tongue-in-cheek humour and terrific personality marked it out as the best pub in the country for marketing.

Star Pubs & Bars judges were looking for pubs that know what they do well, have made it part of their personality, and communicated it effectively. The Brandling Villa, with its dog-friendly theme and Geordie humour, marked it out from rivals in the 2,700-strong competition. A fantastic selection of beers and a focus on whisky also didn’t go unnoticed.

Judges described the Brandling Villa website as “Brilliant – not only engaging and good content but so tongue in cheek that it’s hard not to feel immediately enamoured with the pub.” And that was before they even got there. A major feature is a tour of the pub seen from the perspective of the late Frank, the beagle who ran around the pub with a videocam attached to his collar.

The dog theme is carried through everything from Polaroids of dogs visiting the pubs on tables and Facebook posts to the ‘Doggos 4 Lyf’ section of the menu that features dishes for dogs such as Billy & Margot Doggo Popcorn and Fillet of Frank For My Pooch and a selection of drinks that includes Woof & Brew herbal teas for dogs for anxiety and breath and Bottom Sniffer beer.

In the pub, the judges loved the use of cheeky patter to describe menu items, from Daft Shit On Chips and celebrity-inspired burgers with outrageous names like Pato Banton Ruined My Interview At The Department of Work and Pensions, The Beef Chegwin Plus and The Dirty Thoughts of Cheryl Cole, right through to the kids’ menu – Somefin Nice For Dem Little Shites (although they omitted to mention the more controversial menu offer of Something For Them Vegan Arseholes).

The judges noted how the Brandling Villa team’s exceptional and diverse approach to marketing and clever and effective brand-building using humour, such as the pub’s Byker Teas – featuring turkey dinosaurs – has created a clear personality and loyal following.

The pub has more than 6,000 likes on Facebook, 7,500 followers on Twitter and 2,100 on Instagram.

Dave Carr, whose company of Frank & Bird runs the Brandling Villa said: “I’m very grateful that Star Pubs & Bars has recognised what has become second nature in our pub. Marketing becomes a lot easier when colleagues, suppliers and punters all see the same picture.”

Awards evening host, comedian Ed Byrne, agreed with the official sentiment: “Congratulations to Dave and his team who are at the top of their game when it comes to marketing. They’ve turned a community local into an iconic and much-loved venue. The love of dogs and Geordie humour have been used to great effect and they capture the fun nature of The Brandling Villa and create great and effective social media content.”

Dave Carr’s latest venture – The Punchbowl in Jesmond, Newcastle – is set for an unveiling on June 26.

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Alastair Gilmour

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