In February’s Opening Times column I commented on the increasing rarity of finding a cosy, traditional pub offering a welcome to all comers that was ticking over nicely. However, they are still out there and it is very gratifying to find yourself in a pub where that kind of atmosphere prevails, as I did on two occasions over the past weekend. One of the keys to this is getting the balance right between food and wet trade. In most locations, a pub that serves no food at all will limit its appeal purely to locals and regulars, but one that is wall-to-wall diners will be devoid of any pub character.
A cause for concern, though, is that the mainstream customers of pubs seem to be getting older and older. I’m in my late forties and often in a proper pub have found myself amongst the younger customers. The next generation just don’t seem to have got into the habit of regular social pubgoing and this has worrying implications for the long-term survival of pubs.