Wednesday, 6 October 2010

What men want

I recently unearthed this article 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!

Edit: There’s a picture of the Castle pub in Blackpool here. It looks just as you would expect.


  1. It all depends what you want out of a bar, Mudge.

    If you want to play dominoes with the old timers, get yourself down an old mans pub.

    If you want to pull an orange coloured scouse lass after a skin full of lovely lout get yourself down to Blackpool.

  2. That's one of the great dilemmas of life, really...

  3. It's as though there's enough space in the market for both of these (and more) to exist. I know which I prefer, and I'm happy that there are pubs for all tastes.

  4. Never had you down as an orange Scouse girl pulling type Zak, but as you say, "all tastes". (-:

  5. It's pretty much what I'd like too. Back to the 50s. And of course there'd have to be smoking permitted.

  6. If the dickhead bar in Blackpool
    is doing so well ,how come they
    have to keep putting their prices up. Near 800 on sat afternoons,
    28 TVs and poly jugs ???????
    Come of it,you can kid state
    educated dipsticks but leave it out for the bright boys.
    Anyway the joint's just another
    Pizza Parlour with pumps.

    Nesbitts Platoon

  7. Coffee, grub and kids out, peace, smoking and busty barmaids in, please.

  8. 2009 we ditched Sky and its prohibitive cost (over £18k) per year and re-directed that spend into repairs, maintenance and entertainment - our volumes increased by over 30%, our food sales grew by nearer 40% and the atmosphere in the pub totally changed ... neanderthal football supporters replaced by an eclectic mix of new customers ... many of whom were actively seeking out a venue that was not dominated by TV screens (as many of our local competitors are) ... if not for these reasons then at least to be spared the sight of all those 3D glasses

  9. As the article says "no food is served" it can't be a "pizza parlour with pumps", can it?

  10. My local, the Guest House in Southport, does snacks at lunchtime, has one small TV in one room only, serves up to 10 cask ales and is popular with its clientele, which is varied in age and gender terms. The talk of old men's pubs does many traditional pubs a disservice.

  11. Problem is, there's no money to be made selling Mild Ale to old men.

    As for lager in plastic glasses, well I'll be staying at home, thanks.

  12. Lager in plastic glasses, 28 screesn and not a woman in sight? Lovely. Must look like a ghost ship post football season, though.

  13. OK
    "Pizza Parlour with Pumps"
    which does'nt sell Pizzas

    Or better still
    Coffee shop with license

    Do you really want to know why
    a few pubs seem to be doing OK,
    there's bugger all anywhere else to go.
    Some pubs are surviving on the
    stragglers and leftovers from
    nearby closed or dead pubs.
    What would happen if a few non food
    no-kids pubs were allowed to be
    exempt from restrictive regulations.
    How long before the "contented"
    busy pubs changed their tune.
    If these so called landlords are
    so supportive of very "popular"
    bans,surely they would keep their
    bans to maintain their venues
    Just ask these dishwasers why they
    did,nt have a ban before July2007.

    Ex Taverner

  14. I think I went in there mnay years ago on a local CAMRA trip to Blackpool - in those days it was a reasonable pubs selling two or three cask ales I think.


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