Friday 6 June 2014

It’s oh so quiet

It’s always good to see a pub so busy it’s standing room only, but very often a visit is more rewarding at a quieter time when you have a choice of where to sit and can get served swiftly at the bar. You can have a relaxing, contemplative drink and watch the world go by secure in the knowledge that on Friday night it will be heaving.

However, it’s one thing for a pub to be a bit quiet, but something else entirely for it to be pretty much devoid of customers. I wrote recently about calling in a prominent, classic Holt’s pub at a time when once it would have been fairly busy, and finding only about five customers in a building that could easily have accommodated thirty times that number without feeling packed.

As blog readers will realise, I’m probably more interested in seeking out new and unfamiliar pubs than new beers, but sometimes it feels like intruding on private grief. Not so long ago I visited a pub that had been on my list for a while. It used to be in the Good Beer Guide but has dropped out in the past couple of years; however, there’s nothing obviously wrong with it, with three cask beers on the bar, a comfortable, rambling interior and A-boards outside advertising a varied food menu. Yet, once a guy sat at the bar had departed, I was the sole customer. Frankly, it’s embarrassing, and is likely to deter you from visiting again, or from recommending the pub to others. It’s even worse than dining alone in a restaurant because in a pub you’re looking for at least a little social buzz. It’s not as if there are other pubs nearby to which all the customers have decamped because in neither case do I reckon that applies.

I satirised this in the description of my visit to the Feltcombers’ Arms at Arkwright’s Hillock, but many a true word is said in jest. And, if even apparently attractive and welcoming pubs are deserted at times when surely twenty or even ten years ago they would have been doing decent business, then you have to think there is much more pain to come in terms of pub closures.


  1. You are never alone, Mudgie, when you are sat near the Elephant in the room.

  2. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that said elephant continues to rampage through the pub trade.

  3. Yup, that elephant seems to take up an awful lot of space in pubs.

    It needs shooting.

  4. If we're talking about the smoking ban, can't we just say so? It's tiresome enough that the media and politicians refuse to even mention it!

  5. It's a standing joke that people (including many in CAMRA) go on and on about the decline of pubs yet refuse to acknowledge the presence of the "elephant in the room".

  6. We are often reminded how many
    welcomed the ban in pubs,it's far reaching appeal,it's popularity,
    it,s righteousness
    Lets ask the commissars and their
    cringing suppoters to support the
    proposal stated in the LABOUR Party Manifesto ISSUED FOR THE 2005 ELECTION
    Namely that non food pubs would have the choice of SMOKING or NON SMOKING. Let the publican choose and give us the choice.
    Sadly freedom,choice,liberty and democracy are not on the menu of the small minded.

    The Rainbow Bridge

  7. The Rainbow Bridge,
    Stopping a pub or restaurant from deciding whether to allow smoking or not is also banning freedom and choice. Although it would be interesting to wonder what would have happened if the manifesto commitment had been stuck to.
    Because I reckon if you banned eating out, suddenly millions of people would discover the joy of drinking out and relearning the art of talking to people. An art that seems to be lost in these pub themed restaurants aimed at middle aged feeders - which these days is about 90% of pubs.
    I am pretty sure that the average age of the pub goer is going up, I have no figures to back this up and I hope that I am wrong.

  8. Check out the Local Spoons overlooking a busy road
    Couples gripped in the final throes of near death boredom chewing a burger and sipping
    a Moselle,the male's face grey with eternal agony,the female's
    bloated with victory.
    At the bar a semi circle of pot
    bellied fell walkers deep in heated debate on the merits of a creamy froth,sat in the dark corner a satanic bunch observing the disability loo


  9. "I am pretty sure that the average age of the pub goer is going up, I have no figures to back this up and I hope that I am wrong. "

    Indeed, and when you still come across "proper" drink and chat pubs the average age of the customers seems to be well north of 50. The younger generation don't seem to be getting into the habit of pubgoing - which clearly doesn't bode well for the future.


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