Interview with Neil John from The Falcon Inn & The Oak

SoGlos speaks to Neil John, owner of Painswick's The Falcon Inn and The Oak, about running a family business, the pub's loveable four-legged friends and his latest venture.

The Falcon Inn, a family-run pub nestled in the heart of the historic town of Painswick, offers a warm welcome to locals and visitors alike, making it the perfect place to stop for a leisurely lunch, afternoon pint, or an evening G&T.

SoGlos chats to its owner, Neil John, about running a family business, the pub’s four-legged friends and his latest Painswick venture, The Oak, where his son and daughter-in-law have taken the reins.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

All my working life has been involved in hotel work, starting off as a teenager and through college at The Cawdor Arms Hotel, Llandeilo, and quickly moving on when gaining my qualifications to such places as The Chateau Impney in Droitwich; Trust House Forte Hotels; The Belmont in Leicester; The Noel Arms in Chipping Campden; The Bear at Woodstock; and Weston Manor Hotel in Weston-on-the-Green.

Parsnip Inns was formed in May of 2011 by a good friend of mine, and I became involved some 10 months later, and became the sole owner together with my wife Susan in 2012.

How has it evolved to become a family business?

It quickly became a family business as our son, Charlie, was already working at The Falcon, so it was just a natural progression, with myself and Charlie more involved with the day-to-day running of the hotel, behind the bar and serving food.

Meanwhile Susan enjoyed the refurbishment side of the business, with the rooms, ground floor and The Shires all getting makeovers since we’ve been involved, and there’s more to come – it’s continuous!

What roles do you all take in the business?

My role within Parsnip Inns is to get involved in everything, from serving to accounts and everything in between, not to mention the occasional guest appearance at The Oak, Painswick our newest venture, where Charlie and his wife Lucy have become the managers.

What are the best and worst things about working with family?

The best is always being around your family, the worse is that we always seem to be at work!

We can be dining out and notice something that would work well for us, we’re always looking for furniture for the rooms or ground floor, or just going over the last couple of days or the next few days.

How did taking over The Oak come about?

The Oak has the same landlord as The Falcon and they knew we would always be interested if it became available – so when it did, the excitement grew and all of us worked hard to get it where it is today.

Would you like to run more pubs in the future?

For the present having two in the town is enough, but who knows what the future holds.

What are the main challenges of running a pub?

All industries say the same but it’s true, staff are the main asset of any business – but trying to find the right people to join the team is getting more and more difficult.

We have a lovely team that we consider to be more family and friends than just staff, so we are extremely lucky, but we’re always looking for hidden talent, especially in the kitchen.

What do you think are the key ingredients to running a successful pub?

Work hard, be true to your values, work hard, enjoy it, and work hard!

Has the industry changed since you first started out?

OMG yes but there is not enough space to tell you why!

Can you describe the ambience of both pubs?

I describe The Falcon as my front lounge and dining room; I get such a buzz out of seeing people enjoying themselves in my house, and when we have live music, which takes place on the last Friday of each month, it’s the best.

The Oak is like the local I want to be in, full of regulars, visitors and characters. Unfortunately I don’t get to enjoy it as often as I would like, but I know that lots of people do.

We love that you’ve got a pub cat and pub dogs – are they as much part of the family?

In the pecking order of life Susan is first all the time, our two new puppies Dilys and Nerys are next, and then Pingu the pub cat that has adopted us from our neighbours. But I’m sure like all cats there are a number who enjoy his company… if only we could share the vets fees!

Can you give us your insider’s tips for what to do in and around Painswick?

Painswick is one of the most relaxing towns I have enjoyed, the centre with the church, yew trees and cottages is a delight to wander around and just soak up the atmosphere.

Then of course Rococo Garden is a must; walking to the top of Painswick Beacon to see the spectacular views is breath-taking; and then finally to enjoy the hospitality not only at The Falcon and The Oak, but also the many tea rooms, bistros and restaurants that make Painswick so special.

For more information, call The Falcon Inn on (01452) 814222, email or visit directly, and get in touch with The Oak on (01452) 813129.

© SoGlos
Wednesday 02 August 2017

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