Some slightly worrying comments here from Chris Tulloch, managing director of pub operator Weston Castle who specialise in breathing a new lease of life into failing low-end pubs belonging to Thwaites and Mitchells.
“We always have only one bar, it may serve to more than one area or more than one room. The bar, in our opinion, is the real heart of the community pub and it’s the most important thing in every refurbishment we do.Well, I suppose anything that improves the trade of pubs has to be welcomed, but knocking them through and turning them into brash, standardised bars may not prove a good idea in the long term when customers value character and distinctiveness. Personally I actively seek out pubs with pokey rooms, corridors and blind spots.
“Secondly, we take away pokey rooms, corridors and blind spots. This ensures that the bar is the centrepiece of a relatively open-plan venue and everything can be seen from the bar.”
Tulloch added that machine locations are very important too and Weston redesigns the entire layout so that it is able to continue to receive 20% of its profits from machines. There are also pool tables, jukeboxes, darts, bingo, live music and karaoke themed nights.
What he is describing sounds very much like the typical failed pub model of the past forty years. There’s no mention of improving the drink and food offer, nor indeed of ensuring that there are decent smoking facilities. And, by definition, you can’t see outside areas from the bar.