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Euro 2012 is finally upon us, the pubs, after celebrating the Jubilee weekend are gearing up for 3 weeks of football, with a miracle needing to take place if England are not be back home when the final takes place on 1st July. *Events like this help make a pubs summer from a trading point of view, the occasions which bring in the regulars family and non regular friends for an extended stay, greatly increasing the value of that combined visit when the till is counted at the end of the night. *This year the pubs have had a fantastic run of special events, the FA Cup Final, the Premiership decider, a double Jubilee bank holiday and the aforementioned football tournament.
My local pub The Cock and Bottle in Southowram, is a perfect case in point. On the Jubilee monday, the weather gods smiled upon us, the car park was shut off and like many pubs there was entertainment, an outside bar and BBQ filling the air with tempting smells. *Over the next seven hours the car park was busy all day, with mine and many others families. *People queued for the BBQ and there was 2 deep queue for the main bar inside at most times. *Kids enjoyed the face painting, the adults the beer and both groups appreciated some excellent performances by the two bands
Personally my spend on that day was 5 times my typical spend in a regular visit. *There were at least six times the number of people that would be present on a normal bank holiday, and most spent the majority of the afternoon and early evening there. *Some investment is needed to make the most of these days as well as good planning, but done right it will reap significant rewards. ***The same is true with sports events, you need to make the pub more attractive over the competition, the free food at half time, the sweepstake, all attract people.
This rule of investment being needed is valid for all aspects of bringing people into a pub, from a pleasant decor, to bringing in good beers, wines and ciders, down to providing a comfortable space for smokers to indulge their habit. *If there is a free pool night, it may cost 15 quid in table income, but you only need 10-15 extra pints to be sold to make the money back. A group of 4 males who have come in for the pool especially can cover this easily in a couple of hours alone.
The best pubs out there are the ones who show ambition, increase their profile and drive people to them, this is obvious. Sadly there are still too many pubs out there where a good proportion of their income derives from a relatively small number of customers, a business model which is not sustainable over any term. *Many of the pubs which are now shuttered up with “all items of value being removed” once operated on this model and as these essential customers drifted away due to financial or health problems or simply went elsewhere, the pub went from being loss making to financially untenable.
In recent years Halifax and the surrounding area has a very good history of taking these places back to being a healthy thriving pub after being shuttered or a history of poor trading. *A typical example is The Cock and Bottle which had a 5 year gradual decline before it went through several short term landlords and closure. *The new owners spent relatively little on buying the building, but a lot more gutting and redeveloping it. *Done with care, the pub was an instant success again and people who left over the years returned pretty much immediately.
The Royal Oak (now Dirty Dicks) had most period features damaged to some degree during the later years before the closure and change to the new name, but a lot of effort by Sean Garvey in restoring it and making it a real ale venue has seen it become one of the best pubs in town, *Lewins suffered from poor beer and a dwindling customer base before Karl Sanders put the effort into making it a live venue worth visiting and building a reputation for very good ales. *The Ship Inn in Brighouse went from having to plastic cover the glass windows and having a very rough reputation to a repected ale house which does nice food and attracts people from all quarters.
It is a sad fact that more pubs will degenerate and be rescued, but it would be nice if the rescue came before the shutters were closed and valuables removed, and only the bar manager in residence and a reasonable landlord can make this happen. *If the latter is too greedy, then failure is only hastened.