'We can't wait to get back to normal': Meet the Leeds couple behind the transformation of Meanwood pub Beck and Call
The Beck & Call is a warm, family-friendly pub nestled in the heart of Meanwood.
Its managers, Nikki Grover and Ben Murray, have transformed the pub beyond recognition since they took over in 2016 - when it was formerly known as the True Briton.
Now boasting an extensive beer garden, children's play area and upmarket interior design, the transformation is a real Leeds success story.
Nikki and Ben quickly drew in a loyal customer base, whose support has been more vital than ever this year.
Family is at the heart of the business; the couple's 17-year-old son has recently joined the team at the pub, following in his parents' footsteps.
It's a refreshing change for 45-year-old Ben, who had worked for big companies in hospitality for more than 20 years.
“We’re a very relaxed, community-orientated pub," Nikki, 43, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“I’ve never worked for a company that cares so much, from the managers down to the staff. They put on incentives and they’re constantly asking if the staff are okay.
"We’re like one big family.”
The Beck & Call is owned by the independent Leeds-based group Further Afield Pubs, who were so impressed with Nikki and Ben's success that they've recently acquired The Crown Hotel in Boston Spa.
But the overhaul hasn't been without its challenges. For a customer-facing business that relies on the support of its regulars, it has been a difficult year for the Beck & Call.
"Lockdown was hard, not knowing if our regulars were okay," Nikki added.
"Some of them have been coming in for years.
“But coming back, the customers have been amazing. They've been really encouraging and so good with the staff. Even in the bad weather they’re still sat there in the pouring rain.
“We’ve got extra cleaning standards in place and the Covid safety measures, but it’s just felt normal again."
The Beck & Call is rooted in the Meanwood community.
Nikki and Ben organise fundraising events for nearby St Gemma's Hospice, local sports clubs and other charities.
It's important for them to give back to the families who turn up week after week, Nikki said.
She added: "We're always looking for new groups to fundraise for. Keeping the communities together is really important to us."
The pub's community spirit and large beer garden has made it an appealing choice for people in Leeds since it reopened outdoors in April.
Bookings have flown out over the last month and the team are excited to reopen the indoor space on Monday.
"The menu is so good", Nikki promises.
“The fish and chips is our most popular dish, we get told all the time that it’s better than from a chippy.
"The burgers go down well and the ham hock is really impressive if you want a big meal.”
The Beck & Call team have high hopes for the summer ahead, hosting live sport, family events and mini food festivals.
Nikki added: “We hope to see lots of families back and people enjoying themselves again, having good food and drinking good beers from local breweries.
"The Euros will be on and we’ll be doing family-friendly events. We can't wait to get back to normal."
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