Wednesday 18 January 2012


Imagine you are a licensee. It’s a bitterly cold day. Someone comes in your pub on their own and sits down at a table reading a free newspaper. This person isn’t an obvious loon, but may possibly be something of an eccentric. They show no sign of buying a drink or ordering food. The pub isn’t sufficiently busy that they’re depriving someone else of a seat. How long do you wait before speaking to them, maybe asking whether they would like a drink? Or would you just leave well alone if they’re doing no harm and only intervene if they started doing it regularly?

On a related note, over the years I’ve noticed a distinct shift in pub behaviour. In pubs where food is ordered at the bar, in the past groups would come in, get their drinks, sit down and then peruse the menu. Now, increasingly, they sit down at a table, peruse the menu and then go up and order food and drinks at the same time.


  1. Your point in the second para is probably due to the increased use of debit/credit cards, I reckon. As for the table squatter, when I lived in a pub Mr Puddlecote Snr would have given them approximately 60 seconds before intervening. You would also have trouble recognising the unusual shade of reddish pink his face went when people used the toilets without buying anything!

  2. I'd guess many people now think of pubs as cafeterias. There must be a sizeable number of customers who don't buy drinks with their meals.

  3. Sadly, Dick, the old school licensee is now a thing of the past. Pubs can't afford to antagonise any of their customers nowadays.

    In this case, the person concerned, who in fact was a middle-aged woman with a slight hint of "mad cat lady", was allowed to sit there for well over half an hour reading the paper until her female friend joined her and they each had what looked like a half of lager.

  4. That is similar to the people who go into Starbucks and other chain coffee houses, set up computer for the free wi-fi, then buy a single coffee and nurse it for hours, just to use the free internet. It might be why some feel the right to squat anywhere these days without buying, because of these other types of places making it common.

  5. Many pubs require a table number so if eating best to get a table first.

    Some pubs have menu items that come with a drink, so best see the menu first.

    Some pubs tell you there is a wait on the food so might as well know that before I order a drink so I can go elsewhere if on a lunch hour.

    Most pubs are no longer pubs, they are cheap restaurants, different rules and behaviours apply.

  6. I remember sitting in a pub in the eighties and a couple walked in and asked the wonderfully grumpy
    landlord if he was serving food, he replied "This is a pub."
    Those were the days.

  7. Allegedly in the dim and distant past a customer walked into the Crown in Stockport and asked if they had any crisps, only to be told by the battleaxe landlady "this is a pub, not a restaurant."

  8. Blimey, it's a good job they didn't ask for a pickled egg, would have caused world war three!


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