The darts-mad Black Country pub where the manager and regulars have become friends

Cottage Spring in Dudley with Tony and Shelley Price

It’s been eight years, and they’re still loving life running it for Black Country Ales, where they say customers they’ve met over the years have now become friends.

Sharing about what it was like when the couple first took over the pub, Shelly, 53, says: “We had done some relief work for Black Country Ales, and then we were asked if we could take over this pub Wanted to see, checked out, had an interview and decided we’d keep it going and have been here ever since.

Cottage Spring in Dudley with Tony and Shelley Price

“We had run pubs for Marston before the Golden Lion, but this was our first proper right of way pub with Black Country Ales as previously it was just relief work.

“When we took over, we didn’t know anyone in the area who came to the pub.

“It was tough at first but once we got to know the customers and build relationships, it became great and it’s going really well. For a small brewery, it’s great.

“The people who come are no longer customers, but they have become friends now. It was a bit difficult at first because they were trying to reach out in the beginning and so were we, but it takes time and building relationships. Tried it and it worked.

“We’re still enjoying it as much as before.”

Cottage Spring in Dudley with Tony and Shelley Price

Pubs are certainly facing a tough time after the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis, the hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit sectors.

Talking about what it’s been like, Shelley says: “Covid was a really strange time. The day we were asked to close the pub, everyone fell silent and some were crying.

“We pulled the last pint and then everyone was gone by 8 p.m. It was like a ghost town around here, it was a weird time.

“We started doing pub takeout lunches once a week, taking telephone orders – which kept us going a bit during the time and allowed us to give people a pub experience as we served up bottles of beer and beer mats, And it also allowed us to be strict with people as well.

“With the energy crisis, I think it’s going one of two ways.

Cottage Spring in Dudley with Tony and Shelley Price

“People either won’t go out at all because they can’t afford it, or they’ll come here for warmth to save their own oxen, and I think it’s worked for us the way we still are.” Getting people coming in.

“We always have a fire burning, and so it’s a warm, cozy environment and it’s company too, rather than sitting at home by themselves, people come in, enjoy the chat and the warmth we provide them with. “

Cottage Spring is really popular with locals as well as people from the Black Country as it has become very popular for its darts competitions.

According to Shelly and Tony, it’s a darts-mad pub. They run a Monday night league, and their pub is the head office.

Cottage Spring in Dudley with Tony and Shelley Price

Then there is an in-house darts tournament on Tuesdays, and regular quiz nights on Thursdays and Saturdays, they have entertainment, and so they think there is something to keep everyone entertained and this has helped the pub grow in popularity have helped.

Sharing about serving drinks with Black Country Ales, and running the pub for the couple, Shelly said: “The BFG drink is the most popular ale and everyone loves it.

“We also serve it in molasses and most people go for molasses. We have six ales and two ciders, as well as all the regular drinks.

“We have had a lot of support from locals and regulars, they have helped with the fundraising and we have built up a great relationship with these people.

“We’d like to thank everyone for their support over the last eight years, it’s been great.

“And finally, as pubs face a difficult period, remember that if you don’t use your pub, you will lose it – it’s that simple.

“So as long as people keep coming, we’ll stay open and we’ll be here.”

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