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View Full Version : Why are Wetherspoons Pubs like Marmite??



Aqualung
27-07-2012, 00:08
You love them or you hate them!

I suspect that many of the grossly negative reviews on a rubbish inferior pub site are from rival landlords that have seen their cushy overpriced business ruined.

I'm a fan but I am fully aware of the well documented problems of inadequate staffing levels, "Available Soon" beers etc etc. The key is a good manager and decent Duty Managers, something that seems to change all the time.

Mobyduck
27-07-2012, 06:49
You love them or you hate them!

I suspect that many of the grossly negative reviews on a rubbish inferior pub site are from rival landlords that have seen their cushy overpriced business ruined.

I'm a fan but I am fully aware of the well documented problems of inadequate staffing levels, "Available Soon" beers etc etc. The key is a good manager and decent Duty Managers, something that seems to change all the time.

I'm not a fan, I agree the reasons above are the main problem i.e ever changing management and staff plus lack of consistency in the beer,likely linked to the former statement,also there is the certain level of custom certain outlets attract.
I'm not saying their all bad, for example I found the Gatehouse in Highgate to be a decent pub, but as a job lot I,d give them a body swerve and head for a non chain trad pub.I know not everybody will agree but that's the Marmite factor.One other thing now you've started me off, how do so many get in the GBG, mutual back scratching I reckon .:)

Brewguru
27-07-2012, 09:29
In My experience 'spoons are rarely stinkers and rarely outstanding. Some of course are better than others - this can be due to management (as already stated), the building (some of them are in fantastic old banks / theatres etc) and location ( a rough area will lead to a certain clientele which drags it down).

If I am in a strange town, with no access to information on which non chain pubs are in the GBG, or had good reviews on sites such as this and the other place (which still can provide useful info if you bypass the obviously persecutive posts) then a Wetherspoons (or Lloyds whatever) is always a safe bet. You know there will be Real Ale that is drinkable, and food that is edible and it won't break the bank. So even if its not as good as others, the house has not been re-mortgaged to pay for it.

Plus (whisper this quietly) in the daytime they are kid friendly (usually). I get a pint, Mrs Brew gets a cup of tea and the kids are fed and watered. I don't like to take the kids into "normal pubs" unless I know that they are welcome. 'Spoons are fair game in my opinion.

Alesonly
27-07-2012, 10:11
I used to like Wetherspoons in the early years in fact the first one Opened just down the hill from my house in Muswell Hill on Colney Hatch Lane in 1979 and I used that one regularly as it was a oasis in a desert of real Ale at the time. But in the last few years they have totally lost the way IMHO and have become the type of chain pub they were first designed to get away from like the Beef Eater or Harvester Flaming Grill Ect. I find its Now like a Grub shop in Most with people just stuffing there guts with cheap food Kids running around uncontrolled TVs blasting out. :(

I really think they need to go back to the original Idea and Have something like a (Wetherspoons Original) based on the original concept of Smaller Bars in shop conversions with No TVs No Kids No Grub Just have Good Ales & Craft Ales with just traditional Bar snacks. But I guess I am in the minority as a G.O S. :D

rpadam
27-07-2012, 12:47
In My experience 'spoons are rarely stinkers and rarely outstanding. Some of course are better than others - this can be due to management (as already stated), the building (some of them are in fantastic old banks / theatres etc) and location ( a rough area will lead to a certain clientele which drags it down).

If I am in a strange town, with no access to information on which non chain pubs are in the GBG, or had good reviews on sites such as this and the other place (which still can provide useful info if you bypass the obviously persecutive posts) then a Wetherspoons (or Lloyds whatever) is always a safe bet. You know there will be Real Ale that is drinkable, and food that is edible and it won't break the bank. So even if its not as good as others, the house has not been re-mortgaged to pay for it.

Plus (whisper this quietly) in the daytime they are kid friendly (usually). I get a pint, Mrs Brew gets a cup of tea and the kids are fed and watered. I don't like to take the kids into "normal pubs" unless I know that they are welcome. 'Spoons are fair game in my opinion.
I couldn't disagree with a word of this - well said!

Strongers
27-07-2012, 14:36
I agree with the sentiment that JDW is always a safe bet if new in town, but I’ve not yet been in one that I would go well out of the way for. The cheap prices are great, but they do tend to attract a certain local crowd. I also think that the business set up makes it easy for bad managers to coast along without putting in much effort. The staff often gets berated for being inept on various review sites, but surely this is the fault of the management for not giving proper training or a structured work environment.

ETA
27-07-2012, 15:23
how do so many get in the GBG...

...especially with the high turnover of management, which means it is impossible to maintain a consistent eye on the cellar management?

Farway
27-07-2012, 16:17
As post header, bit Marmitey, so I mostly avoid even in a new area. But have to agree with Brewguru, in daytime, great for grandchildren, cups of coffee and cheap grub, I know this may upset some, but IMO pubs are not all about real ale, CAMRA, Sky sports, dart teams etc

Marmite is a good description of JDW, my local one has in fact increased the trade in the adjacent Fuller's pub, perhaps beacuse JDW is full during the day, or who knows?

Mobyduck
27-07-2012, 19:28
By the way, I hate Marmite.:sick:

Aqualung
27-07-2012, 19:36
I'm not a fan, I agree the reasons above are the main problem i.e ever changing management and staff plus lack of consistency in the beer,likely linked to the former statement,also there is the certain level of custom certain outlets attract.
I'm not saying their all bad, for example I found the Gatehouse in Highgate to be a decent pub, but as a job lot I,d give them a body swerve and head for a non chain trad pub.I know not everybody will agree but that's the Marmite factor.One other thing now you've started me off, how do so many get in the GBG, mutual back scratching I reckon .:)

I reckon the beer is more consistent in Spoons than other pubs, a lot of pubs don't even sell real ale at all and so I think they should be included in the equation. Over the last few years I have only had poor pints in three Spoons and I'm happy to name and shame. The Toll Gate in London N8, the Gilpin's Bell in London N9 and the Admiral Byng in Potters Bar.

The Gatehouse is a decent place, but also one of the most expensive outside of Central London and certainly benefits from being an original pub rather than a dark and dingy shop conversion. Interestingly it is in an area with other worthwhile (albeit expensive) pubs.

As for the GBG, I really doubt if there is any back scratching going on, sometimes I wonder if some pubs just get "left in" as nobody has really bothered to check the area out. All posters on this site should be aware that there is in the back of all recent GBGs a Feedback form. Use them!! I will soon be receiving my 40th edition of the GBG (yes I've got the lot!!) and as always look forward to trawling through it. The other reason why so many are in the guide is the areas they are in. The Romford area has four listed Spoons out of five pubs. The one in Rainham which I haven't been to sounds like a decent place run by a good "old school" guv'nor. If any one knows of any pubs in the area even worth thinking about going in then I would be interested to hear about them!

As for a Spoons versus a traditional boozer, if I could afford to go on a Jolly to Wolverhampton would I take the short walk over to the Spoons or dive down the convoluted alleyway to the Great Western? It would be the Great Western every time!

Mobyduck
27-07-2012, 20:29
I reckon the beer is more consistent in Spoons than other pubs, a lot of pubs don't even sell real ale at all and so I think they should be included in the equation. Over the last few years I have only had poor pints in three Spoons and I'm happy to name and shame. The Toll Gate in London N8, the Gilpin's Bell in London N9 and the Admiral Byng in Potters Bar.

My nearest spoons is The Prince Arthur (JD Wetherspoon) (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/59601/). Iv,e had some decent pints there over the space of the last ten years but these have been out weighed by at best very average and worse very poor pints.Maybe this is just an example of a below average spoons but I don't bother any more ,I'm not wealthy in any sense of the word ,in fact quite the opposite, but I would sooner spend £3.50 on a decent pint in a pub I am comfortable in, than pay £1.99 and play Russian roulette with the beer however interesting the beer choice may sound.I don't count pubs that don't sell real ale in my particular equation as they don't interest me and I wouldn't knowingly enter one in normal circumstances. I take your point about the GBG feedback form and will use it.
I still hate Marmite. :evilgrin:

Spinko
27-07-2012, 21:42
Wetherspoons are usually better than the average pub in the vicinity, wherever you go. However they vary too much. For example in Leeds, the Stick or Twist is a server of amazing real ale and has a great beer patio. However if these sorts of things bother you (they don't me), the clientele is a bit rough and ready. The Wetherspoons in Leeds that everyone gravitates towards, the Cutthbert Brodrick, has appalling real ale but a more sedate crowd and view over Millennium Square.

Manchester is the same. The Paramount is amazing for real ale. The one on Piccadilly Gardens is appalling, but it is on the route to town from Piccadilly Station so it doesn't have to bother. You quite often get plastic containers here too.

I think the iron test for me about Wethers is whether is has to try in order to do well. If it doesn't, it'll be shite. The problem is you need to know the area or the town to know if the Wetherspoons has to try.

Aqualung
27-07-2012, 23:56
I have never been to Fleet apart from through it on the train.

I remember visiting the Spoons next to Manchester Piccadilly back in the nineties and it was a total disaster!

I'm not sure that them having to try harder in a given area is relevant.

I find the pricing policy really annoying. Today in the George at Wansted I had a pint of the Harviestouns beer that I can't remember how to spell Schihallion or something that cost £2.30 and in the Walnut Tree in Leytonstone the Franklins Grumpy Governor was £1.99. In my opinion the Walnut Tree is at the top of it's game at the moment as the staff seem to be on the ball and there always seems to be a full or nearly full range of beers.
The George in comparison seemed somewhat shambolic even though it wasn't that busy.

Mobyduck
28-07-2012, 00:11
I have never been to Fleet apart from through it on the train.

Believe me that's the best thing to do,keep going.

Spinko
28-07-2012, 00:46
I have never been to Fleet apart from through it on the train.

I remember visiting the Spoons next to Manchester Piccadilly back in the nineties and it was a total disaster!

I'm not sure that them having to try harder in a given area is relevant.

I find the pricing policy really annoying. Today in the George at Wansted I had a pint of the Harviestouns beer that I can't remember how to spell Schihallion or something that cost £2.30 and in the Walnut Tree in Leytonstone the Franklins Grumpy Governor was £1.99. In my opinion the Walnut Tree is at the top of it's game at the moment as the staff seem to be on the ball and there always seems to be a full or nearly full range of beers.
The George in comparison seemed somewhat shambolic even though it wasn't that busy.

The Piccadilly one is always a disaster. In a way it's a real shame for Mr Martin because it ought to be one of his flagship establishments that he probably gets the most passing customers in, being as it is right here to 2nd busiest railway station.

But of course as we know these sorts of pubs don't need to try hard because they will get custom whatever.

Mr Martin needs to consider however that these passibng custom will use this to establish a view of his other establishments. Were I him, I'd make this one the best, not the worst.

Spinko
28-07-2012, 00:58
Just to add, The Paramount in Manchester is one of his best. Always about 9 ales on, one is always a very strong bugger, which satisfies me.

Oggwyn Trench
28-07-2012, 11:19
Not that many around here , two in Telford , two in Shrewsbury , of the two in Telford the William Withering has the best selection and quality of beer but has a stupid queueing system at busy times , the Thomas Bottfield is like a big cafe with beer during the day and on a weekend night it can be four deep at the bar and a very very long wait and usually only the GK IPA , Abbott and Pedi as the ale choice .

The two in Shrewsbury are better but the Shrewsbury Hotel has the usual chronic lack of staff and Montgomerys Tower although well staffed just doesnt feel like a pub , both have a decent choice of beer and the qualitys good , but lots of much better pubs very near , in fact i am off there this afternoon :drinkup::D

Pangolin
30-07-2012, 19:12
One issue is that they set themselves up as being 'better', which leads to annoyance when they are not. Any chain/brewery/group with that many outlets is bound to have some which are not quite up to scratch at any given time although, to be fair, 'Spoons are probably more often above average (whatever that is) than most others.

No corporate-directed manager will ever be able to top the really exceptional private guvnor, but they are few and far between. Actually, the food in 'Spoons parallels the pubs themselves: you know that you will get something reasonably consumable at a fair price and it will be available, but it will never win a Michelin star.

So I don't mind Wetherspoons (and I like Marmite).

RogerB
01-08-2012, 12:42
Having been to around 170 of the things, I suppose I can say that I am quite happy to pay ‘Spoons avisit, even idf it is for my customary breakfast and pint before a long session around town.

The major plus point is that they are (for the most part) consistet with their beer and food and you know exactly what you are getting. It’s fair to say that they have also opened new doors for me in that by knocking out cheap ales, I was able to experiment in what was a largely untapped area for me without breaking my wallet. They probably did more to turn me into a fully fledged ale man than anything else. The same can be said for curries in that until 3 or 4 years ago I would never have touched one but their curry club was an affordable learning curve. Now I love curries.

As for the premisies, there are ‘Spoons with plenty of character (revitalized pubs, converted banks etc) and some that are just aesthetically dull but they do have a justified reputation for their overall cleanliness and have the resources to tart up any of their branches that need a bit of TLC. I also thuink they do listen to any constructive comments and action them where possible.

They have set a benchmark and have the ability to influence the market and I reckion that without ‘Spoons we would probably be pushing towards a £5 pint by now. That said, they can destroy neighbouring established pubs that are unable to compete for one reason or another. I am keeping a specific eye on Whitstable where the ‘Spoons opened last year to much controversy. In the 10+ years that I have been doing an annual pub crawl around d the town I have not known one pub to close. I can think of a couple that are now possibly threatened by the new ‘Spoons existence and will be interested to see how things pan out.

I hate Marmite.

Spinko
01-08-2012, 19:20
I reckon there are a few Wetherspoons that have kept other local pubs open by providing a focal point for a crawl and making a town viable to have a few pints in. Eccles springs to mind. I'll be interested in seeing if Walkden is the same as well - although given its catchment area it's a town that has relatively few pubs.

RogerB
02-08-2012, 14:45
I reckon there are a few Wetherspoons that have kept other local pubs open by providing a focal point for a crawl and making a town viable to have a few pints in.

Fair point and maybe they have also encouraged otherwise poor pubs to up their game and look at their business in a different light to ensure they remain competitive.