Bianca and James Rix have owned and run the Hertfordshire pub together since 2004. The Fox & Hounds is the only Michelin BIB Gourmand restaurant in Hertfordshire, the award that is acknowledged by the Michelin Guide of good quality and good value cooking.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year the couple opened an area outside the pub offering products such as pies, pastries and bread.
The Fox Shop proved so popular that it has now become a long-term fixture inside an area of the pub.
A grant from the Pub is The Hub Community Services Fund meant that an area inside the pub was transformed into The Fox Shop.
A new freezer meant the pub could offer ready meals including curries and pies as well as ice cream. An enhanced shelving area also allowed for a greater selection of seasonal produce, cakes as well as cheeses and flowers.
As well as supporting those living in the local area the shop has helped to sustain the pub and has been its lifeline whilst the business has been closed, or open with restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Outcomes so far:
The store has been a useful source of food for local people and saved them having to travel into nearby towns.
The store helped to keep many small and local suppliers trading.
It helped locals particularly over the Christmas period and has also greatly appreciated during the exceptionally cold weather.
The pub could retain staff during the times of lockdown.
It has also helped attract new customers who had not come into the pub before.
Lessons to Learn:
- The store had to source goods that the local population really wanted and stock a sufficient range to make it worthwhile
- The village already has a local shop for basics so the publicans were careful to offer different items such as fresh bread, home made ready meals, seasonal produce and local ice cream.
- It has been a mutual benefit to both the pub and the community. The locals have found the service really useful and at the same time know they have supported their local pub.
Regional advisor for Pub is The Hub Jeremy English said: “The pub shop has become a crucial amenity for those living locally and has helped to keep the locals connected.”