Monday, 20 November 2017

Do I get points with that?

By removing the previous restrictions on opening new pubs and bars, the 2003 Licensing Act has certainly allowed a thousand flowers to bloom in the sector. As a lover of heritage pubs, I have to say that many of the new establishments don’t hold much appeal for me, but it can’t be denied that it has led to much more competition and diversity, most notably in the areas of micropubs, craft bars and bottle shops.

But the latest novelty has raised some eyebrows, in the form of Morrisons announcing that they have obtained a drinks licence for the café in their supermarket in Guiseley, Yorkshire. There are already thousands of licensed cafés in existence, without the sky having fallen in, but if you were to listen to some people, this is yet another front opened up by supermarkets in their war against pubs. Bizarrely, they have claimed that it is another threat to the on-trade, despite it being by definition a section of the on-trade.

I can’t say I’ve ever personally eaten a meal in a supermarket café, but if people want to wash down their ham, egg and chips with a drink, then why shouldn’t they? And it obviously invites the cliché of the husband enjoying a pint while his wife wheels the trolley round the store. But it’s hardly somewhere that people will make a point of going to just for a drink, or linger long once they have eaten their meal, and indeed Morrisons wouldn’t want to encourage them to do that. They’re not after the destination trade. So I’d say any predictions of doom are misplaced.

You do also have to wonder whether there will be sufficient turnover to maintain the cask beer in good condition. It’s rather reminiscent of the early days of CAMRA when the organisation would badger small hotels and restaurants to put real ale on even though the level of trade was never going to be sufficient to justify it. Most licensed cafés in practice manage with just bottles and cans.


  1. Maybe worry when supermarkets have bouncers on the doors and live bands, but a pint in the store cafe shouldn't be a problem

  2. Morrisons cafe has long been the hip hang out spot for those is the know.

  3. I see that the reverend Tim is using it as a platform for his battle against VAT. Could someone tell me: would 'spoons have to pay tax on food if they sold it unlocked at the supermarkets generally do?

  4. About 25 years ago, there was a supermarket in Athens, just by the old Airport, and in the centre of the supermarket there was a small stand-up bar with draught beer on tap (Greek beer, which is lager basically). It was great. The husbands would prop up the bar having a beer and a fag while the missus wheeled the trolley round the aisles. Thoroughly civilised.

    1. I'd gladly take my wife shopping every day if that were the case. :)


  5. Are they really going to serve cask beer? Surely they are more likely to just stick a few bottles from whatever range they already sell in the fridge.


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