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06-10-2010, 14:12
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I recently unearthed this article (http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/news.ma/article/88330?N=598259&PagingData=Po_0~Ps_10~Psd_Asc) from the Morning Advertiser a few weeks back about what men are looking for in pubs. “A pint of ale, a packet of crisps and some peace and quiet are still what men desire most in a pub,” it says. Certainly suits me. But it goes on to say:

What emerged was a desire for a back-to-basics format, which somewhat reflected pub life back in the 1950s — an era when pickled eggs and bottled beer ruled the roost and television was still reserved for the living room of private homes.

This view seems the antithesis of what licensees in 2010 are being encouraged to offer — where’s the wine, coffee, Wi-Fi, 3D TV and Michelin-starred gastro grub?

Industry watchers and pub companies believe that any licensee pursuing this version of a wet-led, old-man’s boozer is playing to a strictly niche market. Very few examples of this business model will survive in the longer term, we are constantly told.But, as the article goes on to say, while this model of operating pubs is often dismissed as a thing of the past, there are still a fair number of pubs that do well following that format – the Armoury in Edgeley, which has recently received a thoroughgoing refurbishment from Robinson’s, being a good local example. Many pubs in the Sam Smith’s estate fall into that category too.

It’s certainly the case that most of the pubs where I feel most at home are ones like that – tied house, traditional layout, extensive bench seating, mostly mature clientele and food, while usually served, not allowed to dominate to the exclusion of all else, and they can still be found in this part of the world.

Although it must be said that, from my perspective, this pub in Blackpool sounds like a descent into the seventh circle of Hell:

Veteran licensee Dave Daly, manager of the Castle in Blackpool, says live TV football is the one attraction guaranteed to fill his pub — but he admits it takes much more than a bank of television screens to ensure he gets the right volume of footfall.

The Town & City Pubs-owned venue, in the shadow of the resort’s famous tower, has the space to hold 800 customers on two floors — and on key Saturdays Daly says numbers can often approach capacity.

“We have 28 screens in total and we need every one of them. But getting things right in other areas is crucial,” he says. “Proper staffing and stock control are essential to cater for such high numbers and plastic glasses are also essential.

“It’s very much a male-dominated audience and lager sales go through the roof. We don’t do any food; it’s vertical drinking all the way and our take is often 15% or 20% up on a big Saturday,” he reveals.Wow, lager in plastic glasses, 28 screens and vertical drinking – must jump on that train to Blackpool!

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