Thursday, 18 September 2014

Forever Amber

The George & Dragon is an imposing former coaching inn in the centre of Stockport’s satellite town of Cheadle. For many years a Greenall’s house, it closed down a few years ago and, as I said here, there didn’t seem to be much prospect of it ever reopening as a pub. However, it has now been taken over by Amber Taverns, who specialise in reviving wet-led community pubs and, after a fairly thoroughgoing refurbishment, reopened its doors last week.

They’ve done a pretty good job of giving it a “pubby” atmosphere, with extensive bench seating, warm colours and much use of dark wood. It’s resolutely wet-only, with no food of any kind being served, which is a little surprising in a town-centre location. There’s also a strict over-18s only policy, so you won’t be bothered by noisy children running around. The interior is, however, dominated by numerous large screens for showing televised sport, and you can see it becoming the go-to location in the area to watch big matches. There’s an extensive ouside drinking area at the rear.

Although there have been reports of Fool Hardy beers being sold, on my visit the cask range consisted of Pedigree, Cumberland Ale, Hobgoblin and Deuchars IPA, which isn’t exactly going to encourage drinkers to go out of their way. The Pedigree was in decent nick, but at £3.20 a touch pricy for this kind of venue. There’s the usual range of kegs, but nothing of a remotely “craft” nature.

The old pub had an extensive car park, but for some reason they have decided to block this off. The excuse that they don’t want to encourage drink-driving doesn’t really hold water, and in a busy spot with no free on-street parking a car park does give you a competitive advantage. Maybe the longer-term objective is to sell it off for redevelopment. While I was in there, one group came in and asked about parking.

Given the dominance of TV sport, it’s unlikely to become a regular haunt of mine. But it will be interesting to see if Amber Taverns can buck the trend and make a success of an unashamedly down-to-earth, wet-only boozer. There’s an article about their business formula here.

12 comments:

  1. From the Telegraph article,

    "Prices such as £1.69 for a pint of John Smith’s bitter also help."

    For people who enjoy a JS bitter, that's a good deal.

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  2. I didn't check the price list, but I did overhear someone paying £2.95 for a pint of Foster's, so I'd be surprised if anything in this one is that cheap.

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  3. There's a couple of Amber's pubs in my area. They seem to have successfully changed pubs that were very much about to close and they always have John Smiths and a lager for under two quid. Lots of screens and not my sort of place at all but they're serving a market and keeping pubs open so hats off.

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  4. It's time for the Mudge pub guide. A book of all the nations pubs and what if any Mudge factors they tick or cross. Then a score can be given and we can have an annual Mudge factor winner.

    Bench seating, crap decor, dirty toilets, mangy cat, boring brown bitter, old codgers, musty smell, dodgy pies, no tv football, it's the Mudge factor.

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  5. @Cookie - try this.

    I couldn't help thinking that the George & Dragon would make a cracking Sam Smith's pub if they got rid of the TV screens and piped music.

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  6. Should'nt be difficult to get a pub going in Sale, the joints crawling with health freaks,loners
    and screen addicts. If it attracts
    customers from the current declining numbers,we can assume
    the closure of a nearby pub is a foregone conclusion.

    lancastrian

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  7. I quite like the sound of this. I'm quite partial to a bit of live footy and I'd be happy with a couple of pints of Cumberland although a cheese roll to soak it up with might be welcome. Don't care about the cheap JS though, wouldn't drink that if you paid me.

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  8. Ah, Mudgie, that's just a book of what Stinger calls "trad pubs". Boozers that still have an old fireplace and a shitter that Edward II might have crapped on. They don't necessarily tick all the Mudgie boxes. For a start they will get tourists and have to be welcoming of strangers. The Mudgie pub is like the Slaughtered lamb in An American Werewolf in London. Goes silent if an American walks in and asks for a coffee.

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  9. OK, you might not take your bird in, but if they weren't at least tolerant of strangers, I wouldn't get across the threshold, would I?

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  10. I recall a cartoon in an old GBG where a landlord shouts to a crowded pub: "Do any of the regulars want a drink before I serve this stranger?"

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  11. @RedNev, I remember that one and I seem to remember the pub was called the Mason's Arms

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  12. Nice to see that pub open again. I lived just down the road in Cheadle Hulme about 25 years ago and there used to be a few decent boozers in Cheadle, this being one of them.

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