Sunlight shines through overgrown trees onto a picnic table

Can you help the Geese and Fountain grow?

To build on the work we’ve done so far to get the Geese and Fountain up and running, we’re seeking some help – a small group of people willing to lend us a little money to make the next part of our vision a reality. Like crowd funding, but only a small crowd…

It’s kind of hard to believe that it is now six months after opening the Geese and Fountain at Croxton Kerrial and we are really excited about the progress we’re making.

We’ve had some challenges along the way, and there are certainly not enough hours in each day for all the things we are trying to do but we’ve been very fortunate to find some amazing food, drink and people that are helping us to create our vision of what our pub is all about.

First, it’s about really good quality beer and we have that in abundance, with some fantastic breweries right on our doorstep. That has made it easy to find a wealth of good beer to put on our five hand pulls which are all dedicated to beer brewed within forty miles of the Geese and Fountain.

But its not just the real ale – everything served on draught on our bar is local – all the keg beers, all the lager and all the real cider is local too. Not just local, but made with great quality, and great tasting too.

And its about the delicious range of organic wines, spirits and liqueurs, brought to our door by Vintage Roots using a carbon offset scheme that ensures we aren’t damaging the environment by drinking great wine.

Then there is the stunning local produce – from game caught in the Vale of Belvoir to locally produced cream from the Red Poll herd at the Belvoir Ridge Creamery, not to mention the phenomenal geese, turkeys and chickens from Gerald and Richard Botterill right here in the village. All lovingly made into gastronomic delights by Ollie, our fantastic chef.

There are our great staff team, to whom we are very proud to pay the living wage. That’s unusual in the pub trade, but we’re determined to make this a business that doesn’t build its success on exploiting people. Similarly, the choices we’ve made about our energy supplies, our cooking methods and our waste and recycling – we don’t have to harm the environment to be a profitable business.

Now we are facing the next challenge and its a financial one. We need to raise some additional capital to move on to the next part of our vision for the Geese and Fountain and so we’re looking for more amazing people to help us.

What do we need?

In total, about £20,000 of additional funds. We’re hoping to find around 15 people each willing and able to loan us £1,000 or £2,000. We think this model works better than either a traditional bank loan (which can be difficult to arrange and expensive for a small business, especially in the early stages) or a formal ‘crowd funding’ approach (which doesn’t suit localised businesses very well, especially those in small villages).

What will we do with your money?

There are several things we simply didn’t have the time and money to deal with when we first took on the pub last year, things which need some investment before the summer:

  • Tidying and opening up the beer garden so we can make it a safe and attractive place to sit during the warm summer afternoons. We need lighting, seating, picnic benches and some major tree surgery!
  • Creating a “kitchen garden” to grow food for our pub kitchen but also potentially as a community resource for people in the village who want to grow their own produce but don’t have any land to do so.
  • Expanding the range of stock for the summer
  • Refurbishing the function room so it is available for, well, functions!
  • And there are a few things which aren’t as exciting as all the above, but which still need doing. The lease paperwork has finally been completed, meaning that the stamp duty on the lease of the pub needs to be paid, and that’s around £5,000 by itself.

When do we need the money?

Now. Ideally, you’d need to be able to loan us your share of the money during February 2016. If you would like to help, but can’t find that amount of money that quickly, then do please still get in touch, as we don’t need all of the money right away, and we can almost certainly still make use of your funding even if it takes a month or two to arrive.

We need the bulk of the money quickly because we’re trying to get ready for the summer season and that means spending money now so that we can get it back when the weather is warmer, the nights are lighter, and trade is busier.

Why do we need the money?

We knew when we took on running the Geese and Fountain that it would take time to build up the trade and so far our trade has been pretty much exactly as we predicted. There were a couple of things that we didn’t predict however. Firstly, the building itself needed more work to make it useable than we had realised when we took it on, even with a surveyor’s report. So there were things that we needed to do like rebuild the kitchen floor that we just hadn’t planned for, and other things, like replacing the carpets in the letting rooms, that we had hoped to do after a year or two of trading but that turned out to be necessary right at the start.

Secondly, we had hopes of being able to apply for some European grant money to help with refurbishment costs and we had talks with Melton Borough council that initially seemed very promising. But when we looked closer, the terms of the grant were much more restrictive and much less generous that we had first been told, meaning we didn’t in fact qualify for anything useful.

And we are still in talks with the Valuation Office about the rateable value of the pub. Concretely this means that we are paying a very large amount of business rates (over £7000) this year. We hope to be able to get a significant reduction on that but until this is settled, we have to pay up.

The combination of all these means that the money we had intended to use in 2016, mostly got used in 2015 just getting the pub open for business. We know it will come back, but not in time for the work we need to get done this spring. Hence why we need to borrow some additional funds.

Why are we not asking a bank?

We did look at a couple of more traditional options for raising this money including talking to our bank. But as a newly established business, we are not best placed to get approval for business loans. Almost everyone demands equity – ie property owned by the business, or two years trading figures, neither of which we have. And those loan companies that don’t require such things, charge such astronomical interest rates that it doesn’t make financial sense to go that route.

Also, we don’t like the idea of giving our profits to a big institution. We would rather share our profits with the people who are making our pub work.

What will you get back?

Our proposal is that you will receive interest on your loan of 2.5% over the life of the loan. We plan to start making repayments beginning in July and to completely repay the debt over six months, with a final payment in December.

So on a loan of £1000, we would make six monthly payments back to you of £170.84 which would mean a total repayment to you of £1025.04.

In addition, to say thank you we will invite you for a free dinner at the Geese and Fountain for two people and we will give you a 10% discount on all purchases in the pub for as long as we are in your debt.

If you are able to help us, or have any questions that we’ve not answered, please email us at nick@thegeeseandfountain.co.uk or kate@thegeeseandfountain.co.uk, call us on 01476 870350 or come and chat to us about it in the pub.

Thank you.

Nick and Kate

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