Meet the Tipton couple celebrating 10 years running the 'best pub in the area'
As pubs continue to battle the cost of living crisis, the Express & Star continues its Love Your Local series which celebrates our local inns.
Malcolm and Julie Roberts recently celebrated running the Rising Sun pub in Tipton for 10 years, where they are currently loving life as landlord and landlady.
The couple, who have been together for 33 years and married for 20, held a celebration at the pub marking a decade of managing it for Black Country Ales.
To celebrate the milestone, locals got together to sign a card and give £280 to the couple, highlighting their popularity among customers customers who they now consider friends and family now.
Before taking over, Malcolm had his own business erecting steel but after wanting a career change, he worked in a pub for 12 months to get experience and "learn the ropes". Then, one evening he noticed that Black Country Ales had an opening for the Rising Sun, and despite thinking he wouldn't be in with a chance, he was successful after rounds of interviews. 10 years on, the couple are loving life running the establishment.
Malcolm, 61, says: "It was hard taking over at first, we didn't know anybody properly. Whilst I knew some of the locals, I had to get to know them all.
"They have become our friends now and not just customers, they're loyal to us and we are loyal to them. It did take time to build these relationships, at least 18 months to two years.
"When we took over the pub was quite run down but in these 10 years Black Country Ales have done two refurbishments and it is running well now, I would say it is the best pub in the area and I don't just say that because I run it.
"We have 10 real ales available which no one has, it is a nice community pub where everyone is welcome.
"There is never any major issues here - it is just a nice friendly feel to the place and everyone loves it."
Almost everyone that I have spoken to that runs a pub or has done previously, tell me that you can only be successful in doing so if you want to do it - running a pub half-hearted would set you up to fail and so you only do it because you want to.
Malcolm confirms this, adding: "It was my first time running a pub but I got used to it and thoroughly enjoy it.
"You simply can not do it half hearted or cut corners, you either want to do it or you don't, it is not something for the casual. It is such hard work, and running the pub is your life. Especially for us as we live on the premises too, so we are always here.
"On days off we are still here, and so always present for the pub but that is how it is when you commit to it. It is very rewarding though, and yes the managers make the pub but it is truly the customer that do.
"I say that if it wasn't for them, the pub wouldn't be in operation. So we want to thank them all, for their loyalty to us, we really appreciate everyone and the support we receive from our regulars. They turn up here rain or shine."
The pub is part of Black Country Ales and so they serve their ales in part of their 10 real ale pumps, along with four cider pulls and the traditional drinks too.
There are regular events held at the pub with live entertainment taking place every other week.
Malcolm added that they will be hosting a beer festival on Father's Day, which is an annual event where they have live bands, drinks and a barbecue - and people love it according to Malcolm.
The pub has Sky Sports and BT Sport on four screens giving the regulars the option to watch a range of sports, which is popular according to Malcolm.
Speaking about what it was like for the couple during Covid, where the whole hospitality industry was crippled due to forced closures and then restrictions, he adds: "With Covid it was hard not opening at all and not being able to see people.
"To be fair it still hasn't gone back to the same kind of levels pre-Covid as some people are still scared to come out and then over the years we have even had customers that have sadly passed away which is always sad, as we get attached to the customers, like we said they're like family.
"Now with the energy crisis, we are getting by but it could always be better but as things are with the cost of living, people don't have the money to go out and socialise and so we appreciate anyone that does come here."