Bar Manager Richard Ison recently celebrated his 20-year anniversary working in the St George's, University of London Students' Union bar. Here he reminisces about what St George's was like 20 years ago and reveals students' most popular tipples.

Richard Ison Cropped

calendar-icon 4 June 2018

What was St George’s like 20 years ago and what’s the most noticeable change?

"My first impression when I came in for my interview was that I must be going for the Principal’s role as there were five people sitting behind the interview desk! I couldn’t make my initial interview slot, so had to rearrange but luckily enough, out of 59 candidates, I got the job.

"Twenty years ago, before the time of tuition fees there was a much greater social scene at George’s, and we had a busy lunchtime trade with staff as well as students. The bar back then had a smoking balcony, which is hard to imagine now on our smoke-free site, and alcoholic drinks were served through the day and not just after work."

What’s the best thing about working here?

"The best thing about working here is being a small university, and being the only bar on site, there is a closeness you wouldn’t get elsewhere, with everybody knowing each other and a very warm and friendly feel to the place. The past 20 years have flown by, so the bar can’t be that bad a place to work."

What was your most memorable night in the bar? 

"One of the most memorable events nights involved myself and one of the SU officers taking a 'merry' fresher back to halls. Upon returning to the bar, we found he’d beaten us back, having changed his clothes and run all the way to try and sneak back in to what he obviously considered to be a very good night in the bar."

Do you know roughly how many students you serve and what the most popular drinks are?

"Over the years, multiple thousands of students have passed through the SU bar while I’ve been here. Jugs of bitter have been a consistent favourite with sports teams, and G&Ts have always been a popular choice."

What plans have you got coming up for the bar?

"Coming up, we’ve got the Football World Cup and will be showing all the big games for students and staff on the big screens. We’ve recently dedicated one of our beer taps to host different ales and ciders over the summer period. We’re also planning to hold some more events such as cheese and wine tastings, which we hope will prove popular."

You have a reputation for remembering everyone – how do you do it?

"I think this is due to my ability to remember a face, and there have been many to remember!"

What’s your favourite drink?

"When I’m on the other side of the bar, my favourite drink has to be a G&T in an airport lounge, about to board a flight with the Rugby boys heading off somewhere on tour."