Monday, 20 June 2011

Nowhere To Hide

A lot has been said on the smoking ban and how it has affected pubs, and now we are having a similar situation with the economic downturn affecting them. One thing though I have found after two local pub closures is that these things have reduced the hiding place for crap pubs.

One of them had a brilliant sitting area with large windows to capture the light and warmth but the staff were always rude and the beer and wine were often 'off'so more often you would be drinking bottled products the staff couldn't wreak. For some reason you could overlook the crap bits for the nice place to sit and chat to your mates but when you couldn't enjoy that area because your mates smoked so you were more often than not in the awful garden complete with household waste the owners couldn't be bothered to chuck in the bins then all of a sudden those higher prices and crap service began to annoy.

The other one was always rough but with the ill behaviour spreading to the street instead of being contained indoors with a fug that would make a pea-souper look like a bit of mist, the pub really let it's true nature to be known. After the landlords tried to establish a 11am 'Happy Hour' for their regulars, people actually noticed and got together to get the pub closed. Before the smoking ban people would say it was awful and something should be done but as it didn't directly affect them nothing was done. As soon as the regulars of that pub were now lolling on the public benchs outside, fag and drink in hand and swearing loudly in the high street, it was shut quickly. For this reason I think the ban has done drinkers a favor in that the hiding places for these types of places is disappearing.

I know that there have been good pubs that have been forced to shut and there are bad pubs still going but hopefully one good side to some of the problems we have had is that the weak and poorly run ones may finally disappear. Whilst I don't agree on the ban and would have preferred pubs to have smoking and non-smoking bars again, it isn't going to be changed so this is one way of looking on the bright side.


  1. Smoking is one factor out of many causing pubs to close in such numbers. The ban came in before the economy went belly up owing to bankers' greed and criminal recklessness with other peoples' money, causing lots of people to lose their jobs or have wage freezes and job insecurity. All this too must be a significant reason for pub closures.

    I understand you're trying to find a silver lining in the situation, and it's true that in general bad pubs are most likely to close. "No great loss," you might think, but a dodgy pub that's open can be turned around, but once it's closed, it's lost forever.

    Our CAMRA branch covers a large part of West Lancashire and some of our country pubs are really struggling, not because they're bad pubs, but because a drop in their custom has a greater effect than on town pubs. Forthcoming cuts in bus services caused by reductions in subsidies may well finish quite a few of them off.

  2. I agree that once a pub is closed it generally is gone for good. Sadly this is why a lot of country pub especially in my local area are food based now, they know that the food market for them is bigger than the wet side. It is a shame that this has happened but even before the smoking ban this was happening.

    With supermarkets and online places providing cheaper drinks, many folks do stay at home where it is cheaper to drink and where they can sit and enjoy a drink without being moved from their table for someone else who is ordering food. It also used to be that food was the jam on the pub's bread and butter but now this is reversed from what I can see.

    I guess I am lucky that the only pub closures here have been very bad pubs which have been reopened before, only to attract the same problems time and time again.. albeit in one case without the knife problems.

  3. Ridding a pub of a bad reputation is very hard. The new licensees of a Southport pub with a bad name told me that on their first night they barred 18 people as part of their efforts to turn the pub around. Two things can follow from this:
    If you can't get enough new customers to replace those you've lost, you may well have to readmit the ones you've barred just to keep afloat. Back to square one.
    Where do all the barred people (or people from bad pubs that have closed) go? So other pubs begin having problems.

  4. I think that most folks do tend to have three or so pubs to go, more if you live somewhere like London. If they get barred from one they go on to one of the others until they think they can sneak back to the other one due to changes in staff or management. The only way I see to stop them is if pubs do a community barring thing, if you are barred in one pub you know that you are going to be watched in the others or barred from them too. I have seen posters claiming that certain pubs did this but I don't know how successful it is or even if it is a manageable idea.

    To be honest most of my views are from a outside the bar area view, I have worked a couple of festivals and the odd bar work but I don't have any idea of pub management from behind the bar.