Inside The Bishop Blaize pub in Exeter
PUBLISHED: 11:22 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:56 03 December 2019
‘Noisy and passionate’ is how Alice Bryan, the new landlady of Exeter’s Bishop Blaize, describes herself. JUDI SPIERS drops in for a chat
"Alice Bryan if anyone can or should run a pub it's you!" This remark, made by friend and fellow marketing and PR agent Glen King at Exeter Business Expo, planted an idea that just stuck in Alice's head.
"There was a fella handing out leaflets on how to run a pub and I took one," explains Alice.
Within a few months an opportunity presented itself when the lease for The Bishop Blaize just off Exeter Quay came up. Having lived in the area for five years with her partner Troy, it seemed too good to be true.
"We knew the pub - it had a lovely vibe. We knew the people. It had become part of our lives."
It is a massive change in direction for Alice who has worked in the media for almost ten years. The last event she project managed was the prestigious Devon and Somerset Law Society Awards, known as the DASLS, which she'd handled for five years.
"In that time it's grown from something that was held at corporate event level at Sandy Park to something with real status attached to it held at Exeter Cathedral with 480 people," says Alice, proudly.
With events like this under her belt why, you may ask, would she want to run a pub? Alice is nothing if not frank.
"I'd had enough of being other people's money-making machine and I wanted to branch out and run my own business."
At 16, she left Exmouth Community College, and home, to sell business rates over the phone for BT, earning enough to rent a flat with a friend. From BT to Lloyds TSB, then recruitment advertising, followed by events management and business development for local newspapers and magazines.
She explains: "I've been able to pick something up, learn from it, and then put my own spin on it and it's worked well for me. People have told me an event won't work and I've smashed it!"
Her family, though supportive, have warned of the long hours but Alice brushes this off: "I'm a social bunny anyway. Most weekends I would be in my kitchen making people drinks. Now I charge. That's the only difference."
As well as being a sports bar she and Troy have instigated their own football and pool teams, there's regular live music and, in the future, they plan to work with local charities.
"We aim to make it a community hub, a social environment where people can be themselves…a knees-up Mother Brown boozer!"
She certainly has a novel way of dealing with anyone who might get a little too boisterous watching a televised sporting event. "We put Ronnie or Rosa, one of our pugs, in their arms…it calms them right down!"
Well it all seems to be going to plan. The locals are happy and in Alice's, and the breweries words, they are "smashing it!"
One surprise is that she and Troy have become a support network for Exeter University students who stay to work through the summer.
"Once they know about my previous job they've been asking me to look at their CVs and job applications!" she laughs.
But it's early days and as Alice admits: "Who knows how we are going to feel in five years? I thought one day I might run a piano bar in Spain. Maybe that's the next stage?"
I wouldn't rule out anything when it comes to Alice Bryant. As she herself says: "Anything is achievable in life but you've got to put your energy into it."
THE STORY BEHIND THE PUB
1: Bishop Blaize was the patron saint of wool combers.
2: In medieval times the building was used as a meeting place for local wool owners
3: Bishop Blaize stands next to Cricklepit Mill used at one time for fulling wool and now home to Devon Wildlife Trust.
4: Dating back to 1327 The Bishop Blaize is reported to be the first public house to be built outside the city walls.
5: A leat used to run across the front of the The Bishop Blaize with a small bridge for customers to reach the entrance.
6: The Bishop Blaize was briefly called Nosey Parkers in the 1980s.
7: There was a second Bishop Blaize in Sidwell Street sold at auction in 1970.
8: The Exeter Halfpenny, issued in 1972, has Bishop Blaize on one side surrounded by the words SUCCESS TO THE WOOLEN INDUSTRY.