Saturday, 21 August 2010

Walking away

It pains me to write this, but last night, in one of my favourite pubs, I saw a couple walk away from the bar and out of the door because they hadn’t been served after a long wait. The pub was busy enough, but by no means heaving, and there was a mixture of causes – not quite enough staff, staff being too local-friendly, staff not being fully aware of what’s going on “on the other side”. But, whatever the reason, it’s a disgrace – no good pub should ever see customers leave because they can’t get served quickly enough. The legendary Arthur Gosling of the Royal Oak in Didsbury – long since retired, but fortunately still with us – would be appalled.


  1. One local Group bar has recruited some top staff and priced its Theakstons best at £1.49p a pint
    or burger,chips and salad +pint
    @ £4.99p. I am told (I dont do pubs anymore) service is fast and ale is tops .......BUT
    its emptied 3 or 4 local strugglers.

    Latest observation on pubs demise
    for CAMRA and Labour Denialists
    Ashton u lyne..Pop 56000
    Pit and Nelson......The Pineapple
    The Vaults.........Burlington
    The Chute..........The Shepherds
    The Queens.........Williams
    The Albion.........Turnpike
    Seven stars.........The Church
    Miners Refuge.......The Dog
    Red House............The Peaks
    King Bill..........Central con
    9 others unseen not yet confirmed

    11 more for sale. Future uncertain

    Summary One, once thriving market
    town night scene,,,dead and buried.

    Reasonable explanations welcome.

    Patience running low.

  2. I think it is the mixture of staff not mentally clocking who's been waiting the longest and local-friendly serving which puts a lot of folks off. Yes, your locals are important but those folks you are putting to the bottom of the serving list could be new locals one day.

    Also to be honest you can't blame the staff for it all, I still will point out a person who was at the bar before me to someone who goes to serve me first out of manners but it is a rare thing to see folks do this.

  3. I hate to tell you this but it happens daily in hundreds/thousands of pubs up and down the land.

    You CAN blame the staff, many whom would prefer that you never enter the pub and intrude in their social gossip.

    Many other places are simply understaffed. Either way, they lose customers daily through incompetence.

  4. I've never walked away, but have endured much longer than necessary pub waiting times. Most of the time it seems due to understaffing and staff simply not being on the ball, as you point out.

  5. The worst example I've ever witnessed was when I walked into a nearly-empty pub at 5.30 on a Saturday, to find the barmaid wrestling with the till with a phone clamped to her ear. I waited. After five minutes I worked out that she couldn't get the till to do something she needed it to do, and someone on the other end of the phone was trying to talk her through it. And failing. After ten minutes, a group of five came in and waited with me. After fifteen, one of them volunteered to help her sort it out, and eventually managed it; much banter about giving them free shots all round, what kind of shots they should be, etc, etc. Meanwhile another four or five people had come in; by now a bit of a crush was developing. I eventually got served, as did the group of five. Then, at about ten to six, a barman arrived, looked a bit stunned at the scene and spread his hands at the crowd in the universal sign of "sorry about the wait, I'll get to you as soon as I can". I don't think anyone actually got tired of waiting and left, but in my case the only reason I didn't was that the closest alternative pub was fifteen minutes' walk away.

    What really struck me was that, judging from what I could overhear - and from the fact that the barmaid walked out at five past six, leaving her colleague to manage as best he could - it wasn't an accident that the pub was left in one person's hands on a sunny early Saturday evening; it was actually planned that way. What, after all, could possibly go wrong? Really very poor.

  6. The phone thing particularly irritates me. Happened to me on Saturday. I suppose it's difficult sometimes to judge how many staff are required on any shift, but I think if how ever many staff are on they were to serve people in turn then it can be considered reasonable. It's when dozy staff really are not aware of the customers around them.

  7. It's always the fault of the staff. They should be continually scanning the bar areas and paying attention. It's ok to serve locals at the same time as serving others. But to be fair, some customers can be annoying, especially the ones that insist on ordering a drink at a time - presumably because they think bar staff are to stupid to remember a list longer than one item.

  8. I've walked out of our local Wetherspoons on a number of occasions. Never enough staff, and too many people ordering coffees!

  9. At least once a month, we walk out of a pub because of bad customer service.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval. See here for details of my comment policy.