Praise as social media helps in pub’s revival

Chris Kamara, John and Kimberley Calton, and James Laffan at the awards. Picture by Chris North.
Chris Kamara, John and Kimberley Calton, and James Laffan at the awards. Picture by Chris North.
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A popular North Shields pub has beaten off competition from more than 1,100 pubs to land a national award.

The Staith House, on the Fish Quay, was named Best Social Media Pub in awards run by Heineken owned Star Pubs & Bars.

And bosses also came away with the runners up award in the Best Pub Food category.

The judges were bowled over by the social media skills of new licensees James Laffan and husband and wife team John and Kimberley Calton.

The trio reopened the Staith House a year ago transforming it with a £300,000 refurbishment and an innovative social media campaign.

Masterchef finalist John and Kimberly grew up in South Shields and as children watched trawlers unloading on the fish quays in North Shields.

Having worked in London, they wanted to return to the area to take on their first pub and fell in love with the Staith House – formerly called the New Dolphin – and its position on Fish Quay which would enable them to buy fish fresh off the boat.

The judges loved the Caltons’ and James Laffan’s six-month social media campaign to build interest from potential customers by counting down to the pub’s reopening, tracking every step of the way from finding local farmers and fishermen to supply food to the transformation of the pub’s look.

As a result, the pub has quickly established a reputation gaining listings in the prestigious Michelin and Good Pub Guides and winning nominations for Best Turnaround Pub and Best Food House in national pub industry awards.

John said: “Setting up any business is costly and we knew to survive we had to pull in customers from the start.

“We literally couldn’t have done it without social media.”

John, Kimberley and James received the coveted award from football legend and broadcaster Chris Kamara at a gala celebration night in London.

The trio are not resting on their laurels and are now in the process of planning an extension to the pub to cater for customer demand.

Chris Jowsey, trading director at Star Pubs & Bars, said: “People don’t always associate social media with a traditional pub but John, Kimberley and James’ hard work and new approach in this area have helped them secure the Staith House’s future.

“From tweeting to Facebook they do it all brilliantly.

“They are an inspiring example of how investment, innovation and professionalism are keeping the great British pub alive.”