Celebrating Impish Rogues, Aromatic Whisky, and Great Eats
While the definition of a "rogue" is not especially appealing, there is a genial affection for the entertaining personality of someone so called.
Such is the roguish success story of Fredericton's legendary Lunar Rogue Pub. The name comes from a highwayman named Henry Moore Smith, who lived in Atlantic Canada in the 1820's.
Henry came from England, but he could speak French and English and was a con artist of his time. He acted like an early Houdini because no one could keep him locked up as he was an escape artist. A Maritime author wrote a book about him called The Lunar Rogue because he had an alias called Henry Moon.
"I read the book when I was in grade six and it was a great story. I thought Henry deserved a pub because a lot of pubs are named after highwaymen like Dick Turpin, etc., says Rogue co-founder Frank Scott. The Rogue web site has an extensive profile of this interesting 1,800’s Maritime scalawag, which is available to read here
Frank, along with his business partner Brian Freeman, launched their new pub and unique branding name in 1989, and are celebrating 25 years of food service success in 2014.
The Lunar Rogue has 125 seats, and in the summer season has another 125 seats available in its extensive street-side patio. The pub employs 52 staff during summer season and 40 full and part-time during the winter months.
“Tourists come because we have been voted the Best Patio in Fredericton for the last three or four years by various magazines from their reader polls. We get a lot of verbal references to come here for dining from lot of the local hotels, as well as bed and breakfasts, and we are on the walking tour of Downtown Fredericton", says Frank.
Lunar Rogue Practices Destination Marketing on a Grand Scale
Together, the partners have created a unique fun location to imbibe from an internationally recognized and comprehensive fine whisky list, along with an extensive selection of beers and meal choices.
The affectionately named Lunar Rogue Pub is now an established visitor destination location offering fine dining fare in the internationally celebrated, and historical Maritime themed pub.
"To be the best at anything in the world is not easy. Obviously I can’t get the best beer selection in the world but I do have the best whisky selection or one of the best. So I’m pretty proud of that fact. We have a lot of customers that come here from all over Canada, and the United States, to see the whisky selections and sample whiskies”.
Frank says that part of the Rogue's appeal to customers is one of North America's largest whisky bar collections with over 550 different whisky brands available. "I think what happened is that I took my hobby and spread it throughout the business. I was always keen on whisky. I frequently traveled to Scotland, going back to the 70's, and I have been there five times this year.
"I met Jackie, my wife in Scotland, and I got married in Scotland". Today Jackie works with Frank and Brian in the admin office and coordinates pub staffing.
"I have always had a fascination with the whisky industry. The most important part of the appreciation of whisky is in the bouquet. You can only taste sweet, sour, salt and bitter. But your nose can identify over 35 different primary aromas, and a lot of the appreciation of anything fine in life is the extra bouquet", says Frank.
Advice on How to Enjoy a Fine Whisky
Frank advises that "fine whisky is not meant to be gulped down. It is to be savoured and appreciated, and the aroma is a big part of it. You know to appreciate the finer things in life you have to stop and actually smell the roses."
"Jackie and I are currently the International Ambassadors for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which is the largest whisky festival in the world, and is held in Scotland. To learn more about the Spirit of Speyside Festival, click on this link (http://www.spiritofspeyside.com/). We bring a lot of Canadians over to Scotland for their Festival every year".
There is more to Frank and Brian's Lunar Rogue Pub than celebrating whisky. There is the focus on food preparation, service delivery, and a dining menu offering a wide range of meal choices beyond the typical pub’s fare.
"We get compliments on our food from customers that tell us we are providing a plate that rivals any fine dining restaurant in Fredericton, but at a pub price," says Frank.
Never resting on their innovative marketing laurels as a novel local pub, the enterprising Lunar Rogue management created the international New Brunswick Spirit Festival. Marketed as the "Raise Your Spirits Festival," the NB Spirit Festival is entering its 20th year and draws attendees from all over the World.
Raise Your Spirits Festival Builds Pub Traffic
"I organize the NB Spirit Festival. It’s the oldest spirit festival in Canada, and I’ve been the Chairman for the past 19 years, so I have a passion for whisky”.
Frank explains that the Festival, now held in a nearby hotel occurs on the third weekend in November. This year it was held over four full days, starting on Tuesday, thru Friday.
“We had a rum dinner on Tuesday, Wednesday, and a whisky dinner on Thursday along with 24 master classes. On Friday we did a whisky lunch and four more master classes, and then we had a master showcase with over 800 people in attendance. For more information on the annual NB Spirit Festival, please click this link ( http://www.whiskynb.ca/Fest10/ )
"During the festival we have an onsite liquor store, and people from all over North America come here for the attraction. We always partner with NB Liquor, and we’ve always had a liquor store on-site. We’re one of the few spirit festivals in the world that have an actual store onsite" says Frank.
Rogue's Business Success Formula is grounded in customer service excellence.
"We are very proactive on service. We’ve always believed that quality service is the key to having quality, satisfied customers.
We try to acknowledge anybody that comes into our business within 30 seconds and make our customers feel welcome. It’s just our rule that we live by every day. We provide a menu and drink within two minutes of a guest's arrival. We show our Maritime hospitality".
"You have to love this business or else it will consume you. You have to be a special kind of person to work in the food and beverage industry for this length of time. You have to have a passion for it, and for meeting people. It’s not always about making money. Sometimes it’s more of a satisfied feeling of doing a good job every day," says Frank.
UNIPCO Role in the Lunar Rogue's 25 Year Success Story
UNIPCO... probably kept my business alive for the last 25 years... especially in the harder years when the economy was really bad", says Frank Scott, Lunar Rogue Pub, Fredericton, NB.
Frank has been on the Board of UNIPCO twice including at present, and is a former Chair of the UNIPCO Board.
"When I first was approached about UNIPCO I really didn’t believe it because I didn’t think that it could be true. I was very skeptical, but I became convinced that it was a good deal, so I joined. I’ve been a member for over 20 years, and I think I was number 11 or 12 to join UNIPCO.
UNIPCO, without question, has probably kept my business alive for the last 25 years, especially in the harder years when the economy was really bad. My belonging to UNIPCO was the only kind of a really bright spot because UNIPCO is sort of like being in a franchise. The difference is with UNIPCO you get great prices, but you don’t have to pay the franchise fees every week".
"UNIPCO looks after a lot of the purchasing that I don’t have to worry about every day. I know that the prices are going to be the best that I can get. So I can focus on my business and keep my eye on the business rather than having to worry about buying. A lot of people go out every day and they have to cherry-pick prices. They have to try and find the best price for this item and this item and this item".
Frank says purchasing and pricing are time consumers and takes your management eye off the operations ball where it needs to be.
"When you’re dealing in a restaurant or a pub or in the food service you’re usually dealing with several hundred different products for food. Just trying to keep all those prices in your head and making sure of your pricing, because prices change dramatically throughout the year, takes up a lot of time.
You lose a lot of your time or your staff’s time checking pricing. With UNIPCO, I don‘t have to worry about that so much because UNIPCO takes that problem away".
Frank says that time spent monitoring prices makes all the difference for him about being a member of UNIPCO. "My biggest thing is that UNIPCO works for me, rather than having a broadline food company working for a board of directors".
“The difference is that UNIPCO work for me. I’m a member and as a member they work every day making sure that I succeed”.
“Broadline company employees really don’t work for me. They will tell me anything to get my business, but at the end of the day they’re trying to get me to pay as much as I possibly can for a product. I know that they’re not watching out for me, or my financial interests, rather they’re watching out for their Board of Director's interests”.
Frank says that “UNIPCO has no vested interest in making a profit for a board or a company. Belonging to UNIPCO all boils down to they’ve got my back when it comes to prices.”.
“On top of that UNIPCO checks our prices to make sure that they’re correct. They have staff that will do that for me. I find this reassuring because the people at UNIPCO are working on my behalf every day”.
UNIPCO working for me is a big bonus. Let’s face it, the broadline guy is sitting there thinking about getting more sales margin. He is thinking about how he is going to get an extra two bucks or a little extra money out of these small customers like me? UNIPCO is looking at the other way, how am I going to save my member’s money? The difference is that UNIPCO just works only for me, the member".
The money that I have got back over the years including the rebate money and the bonuses from UNIPCO, and everything that I get returned to me, have kept me in business during the tough financial times. Often the UNIPCO money coming back to me after a difficult year in our local economy is just a matter of having a good year or a mediocre year. UNIPCO’s funds coming back make all the difference.
For Frank, joining UNIPCO as member is simple and very easy to understand. "There is no ulterior motive with UNIPCO other than to help the individual member. The goal is to understand that the more we all succeed, the better( financially), we all will do".
"It boils down to this. You know that individually working with the broadline guy that they’re out for themselves. You know that no matter what they tell you, and they’ll tell you anything; but the reality is that they are out to make more profit for their company.
"There is no one to watch them. You don’t know what their prices are; you have no clue what they pay for a product, but UNIPCO does"