Pamela Richardson from Tobermore in Co. Londonderry has been named as the new LCN Bar Person of the Year.
Watched by family and friends, Pamela (31), accepted the award during the ninth LCN Gala Awards in the Europa hotel, Belfast, early in June.
And speaking afterwards, she said that she was “over the moon” with the result:
“This award means everything,” she added. “I can’t believe it. All the hard work has paid off and as a hard-working team, we are all absolutely speechless.”
Pamela, who has a degree in marketing, has been involved in the family bar since her earliest days, helping her parents out by lifting empty glasses.
The bar itself has been in the Richardson family since 1911. Pamela’s father, Lyle (snr.) took the premises on in 1978 and enjoyed strong trade throughout the 80s and 90s when the bar’s popularity was at its height.
Speaking to LCN recently, however, Pamela said that eventually, trade in the pub had begun to decline:
“I think it was probably for a number of reasons, the economy, the pressure on rural pubs, the smoking ban and so on,” she continued. “I was watching how the business was doing and I knew we weren’t reaching our full potential, we weren’t doing everything that we could, so I suggested a refurbishment.”
Pamela conceded that at that time, Richardson’s core customer base comprised mainly of older men, and she knew that to boost trade, the bar had to begin to appeal to a much wider demographic.
“When I spoke to dad, he thought it was a great idea, he was open to ideas and a fresh input on things,” she said.
An architect was brought in and work began in October 2015 to thoroughly refit Richardson’s. The entire premises was re-worked, kitchen facilities and an off-licence were added and live music was introduced at the weekends to supplement the bar’s existing diet of football.
Pamela says that the changes were embraced by almost everyone from the start.
“Most of our older clientele have appreciated a breath of fresh air,” she added. “We did have a few older people who weren’t that keen on the changes, but we have made sure that there is a quiet area in the bar that they can go to and they’re able to keep themselves to themselves.”
Pamela says that she was delighted when she learned she’d made it through to the finals of the LCN Awards 2018:
“I was over the moon but I didn’t think that I would win, even though I really wanted to. I didn’t let myself go there,” she added. “I was really nervous on the night, but all the hard work has paid off.”
Pamela has always been part of the Richardson family business, even working in the bar on and off while she studied for her degree. At one point, she did work as a supervisor at Secrets nightclub in Magherafelt and that’s where she began to learn about mixing cocktails.
Following the refurbishment at Richardson’s, a cocktail list and a gin menu were introduced:
“We have about 10 cocktails at the minute, including many of the old classics such as the Bramble, Daiquiri and Cosmopolitan, and we offer eight different gins,” said Pamela. “People do enjoy new stuff, but they always come back to the old things…We never did any of this before, it’s a completely new departure, but it has brought new customers to us. People are pleased to see more variety on offer.”
Since winning LCN’s Bar Person of the Year, Pamela says she’s been inundated with good wishes and cards – “I think we’ve put Tobermore on the map,” she says.
The next step will be to start serving pub grub using the new kitchen facilities. They hope to get that going before the end of the year.
“Three of four years from now, I think we will be a lot more successful and a lot busier,” says Pamela. “The sky’s the limit.”
Pamela also says that while she feels she will always be involved with the family business in Tobermore, if the bar was successful enough in the long run, they could look at opening another venue somewhere else.
The Thorny Bramble
35ml Tanqueray Gin
25ml sugar syrup
15ml fresh lemon juice
Blackberries, lemon zest.
Method: Place the crushed ice into a glass. Mix the gin, sugar syrup and lemon juice together in a Boston shaker with ice. Shake for five seconds. Use a strainer to pour the drink over the crushed ice. Then pour/drizzle Chamboard over the top. Garnish with blackberries and lemon zest. Enjoy!