From silver to gold

Monday 03-11-2014 - 14:01

The Best Bar None awards are designed to promote and maintain an inclusive awards scheme for licensed premises, building on good practice and leading to an enhanced customer experience.

Best Bar None raises the standards and rewards excellence for those venues taking part in the scheme.

At NUS Convention, 88 awards were handed out to students’ union bars across the country, with Winchester Students’ Union’s ‘The Vault’ being named the overall winner and Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s ‘Potterrow’ chosen as most improved venue.

Among the success stories in 2014 is Chester Students’ Union’s ‘CH1 Bar’ which turned its silver status into gold as Jez Gilmour, CH1 bar manager explains.

In the current economic climate, we’re still facing a huge number of challenges in our sector. The rise in student fees, longer drinking hours, the culture of pre-drinking and the increased number of competitive bars and clubs opening in areas surrounding students’ union bars has meant we’ve all had to up our game. As a result, the need to keep standards high is at the forefront of all of our work.

For the past ten years, NUS has awarded bars and venues within the students’ union sector Gold, Silver and Bronze Best Bar None Awards based on a strict criterion, which demonstrates that the outlets are keeping their standards high and showing that they can compete with the high street bars and clubs in their area.

2014 capped off an incredible year for Chester Students’ Union, when the students’ union bar ‘CH1’, achieved the Gold award in the Best Bar None awards, upgrading from their previous Silver award in 2013.

As a team, we were all determined to take on board the feedback from the previous year and the disappointment of not achieving the Gold standard and we challenged ourselves to raise the bar in 2014.

We looked into the judging criterion for the Best Bar None awards in great detail, looking for ways in which we could demonstrate to the judging panel that we had the right attitude, policies and procedures in place within the field of alcohol retailing, which would help us to make the Gold grade.

Taking on this auspicious task was Jess Grocutt, assistant bar manager of CH1. Having only been in the position for a short period of time, Jess proved the real driving force behind CH1 aiming for Gold status, with her attention to detail proving a winner for success.

Jess ensured that NUS and the judging panel were able to see that CH1 had improved standards to meet the criterion set and provided in-depth evidence to back up her statements.

This included detailed drawings of the venue, allowing her to highlight the security hotspots and positioning of all badged security staff, to the plans and policies in place for managing and controlling a capacity venue on a busy students’ union night.

Jess provided in-depth records of all training that we’d provided to staff with regards to dealing with drunkenness and any drugs incidents, to fire safety and first aid knowledge. Jess also provided evidence of CH1’s engagement in the community and how the team handles major incidents, providing evidence for strategies that we have in place for dealing with disorder and much more.

I can honestly say that without the hard work and dedication of Jess, ensuring that CH1 provided as much detailed and in-depth information as required from the criterion given, CH1 wouldn’t have achieved the Gold award status.

The whole team bought into the process and works hard to ensure that are standards are always at their highest, so that we can offer the best students’ union bar experience possible for our customers and I can’t praise them enough.

Having something to aim for, in addition to our daily work, has really focused the team throughout the year, and we’ll be looking to ensure we pick up a Gold award again in 2015.



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