Sunday, September 29, 2013

GUEST POST Pubs must help themselves if they are to survive

Pubs must work harder at pleasing their customers says Matt Wright, founder and director of Melton Mowbray based Great Food Club

I was recently at an unassuming Everards pub called The Tudor on the very urban-feeling Tudor Road in Leicester. Tenant landlord Andrew Trickett cooked a tasty pop-up meal to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support using some locally sourced ingredients.

A few months earlier, in association with De Montfort University's Square Mile project, he set up a makeshift cinema in his pub’s barn, near the site of Leicester’s old Tudor Cinema. He showed some movies with Leicestershire links (The Elephant Man being one, naturally!), put on a Polish film night to appeal to the local Eastern European community and even got one of the sons of the original Dambusters to do a talk before screening the film of the same name.

The reason I mention this is because lots of people are crying into their beer at the moment about British pub closures. We must visit and support our pubs, we are told, or we’ll lose them. The trouble is, some pubs that want our custom aren't doing a great deal to encourage us to visit. A few I've visited could do with a good clean and the staff seem more interested in moaning than creating a brilliant customer experience.

I’m not saying it’s easy out there. Supermarkets selling cheap beer, wine and ready meals are making it extremely challenging. But that said pubs (and restaurants) need to fit in with the modern world, not howl at the moon and believe they have a divine right to exist.

To my mind it’s all about being positive, going back to basics (clean toilets are a good start), getting creative and working hard at building your customer base. Much like Andrew with his pop-up cinema and charity meal.

1 comment:

Gareth Epps said...

It is all very well taking this tone, but there are tens of thousands of hardworking licensees who are not allowed to do these things.

Yes, the unthinking campaigns to support pubs (regardless) should be challenged, but that is because they are run by the lobbyists for the very same debt-ridden zombie companies that have sold off thousands of pubs in recent years, mostly for development. Licensees (or worse, in many cases, holding managers appointed on pay below the minimum wage) in the tied pub sector literally do have their hands tied - so don't beat them up. Sign up for the Fair Deal for your Local campaign at instead.