It’s rare indeed nowadays for a new pub to open (as opposed to a café-bar) but one that has near me is the Penny Black in Cheadle Hulme, a prosperous suburban shopping centre about four miles from Stockport town centre. It is a “Smith and Jones” branded pub owned by the Barracuda Group. What is striking about this pub is its location, in a former postal sorting office down what can only be described as a service road behind a parade of shops. It isn’t visible from the main road, so nobody would go there unless they knew it was there, and, lacking a car park, it clearly isn’t intended to appeal to the destination dining market. It almost seems to be a modern reincarnation of the back street pub.
In fact it’s hard to see the rationale for this pub at all, but early reports are that it’s doing a roaring trade. The reason, I guess, is that Cheadle Hulme has become something of a “drinking circuit” and Barracuda are cashing in on the height of the boom but accepting a sub-prime location. Fashions change, though, and as the wet-led pub trade withers away in the next few years I can all too easily see it being put in the category of “return to sender”.Edit 11/04/08: I’ve heard numerous reports that the Penny Black has been a regular scene of trouble. I can’t say I’m surprised.
Edit 05/01/12: And it's now reported that the Penny Black, more recently renamed the "Sozzled Sausage" (sic), has now closed its doors for good. I think I've been proved right there.