Now in Wetherspoon’s you are likely to encounter a very wide mix of customers of different ages, social classes and sexes, and also who are visiting for different purposes, whereas the dining pub and sports boozer can be very monocultural. This is perhaps even more the case for those in suburban locations, where there will be more families, and also categories of customer like sports teams after their Sunday morning match.
Wetherspoon’s have always tended to avoid this type of location, as their business model is very much based on sites with a lot of existing footfall, rather than being pubs people would make a special trip to visit. But the Gateway in East Didsbury, opposite the Parrswood leisure complex, with its cinema and bowling alley, is an exception to this rule, and seems to do very good business. It’s always noticeable how busy it is, when the Griffin just up the road, a classic multi-roomed Holt’s boozer, is virtually empty. There are a handful of other Spoons in similar spots around the country.
Recently there have been several reports that the gloss had come off the family dining sector, which not too long ago was hailed as a major growth area in the pub trade. To some extent, in these locations , Wetherspoon’s are competing against family dining pubs. But they are pubs that serve food, as opposed to food pubs, and so have a wider appeal. Although they sell a lot of food, there’s no pressure to eat in Spoons, and nobody is going to judge you if you just order random items from the menu. While the food in Spoons may not be particularly brilliant, neither is that in most family dining pubs.
Another factor is that Wetherspoon’s don’t show football. I recognise that there is a place, and a demand, for TV football in pubs, even though it isn’t something I particularly care for. But the mere fact of putting it on creates a somewhat more laddish atmosphere and makes the pub less inclusive. Its absence is a key factor in maintaining their broad appeal.
Do not imagine, though, that I am some kind of Wetherspoon’s fanboy. While I recognise them as a successful and savvy company, they’re far from my favourite places to drink. They are, I believe deliberately, laid out to prevent people feeling too cosy and comfortable, to reduce customer dwell time. Their cask beer quality is very hit and miss, and even at its best always seems to be lacking a little condition. They also have a strange knack of being able to put on eight beers, none of which I particularly fancy drinking. And their food offer varies from reasonably appetising to pretty poor.
But that isn’t the point. They’re not aiming for excellence, they’re setting out to be an adequate, consistent, good-value pub that deters as few customers as possible*, and in that they undoubtedly succeed.
* Apart from some diehard opponents of Brexit, of course. Although the people who performatively boycott Wetherspoon’s are generally those who hardly ever visited anyway.
All that and good old Tim supported Brexit!ReplyDelete
The greatest political event in history!
Happy to spend my money with Tim knowing its going to make Britain better!
Every pint with Tim is a vote for Brexit. You can't say that of other pubs.
The idea that Spoons are the preserve of work-shy Brexit-voting gammons is of course as ludicrous as it is condescending. My sons couldn't have afforded to drink their way through uni without Timbo's help and my emergency bailouts - even though they're now earning I still get regular Whatsapp photos of the many different beers they're still drinking.ReplyDelete
And anyone with a long memory using their outlets in Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports will still shudder at the lousy beer and food offerings that used to be available before they came along.
The last time I used a Spoons long enough to form a decent opinion was at The Kings Head Inn in Salisbury where we were visiting for a funeral. It's been an inn since the 15th century and when I lived in Salisbury it simply wasn't a place where anyone went to for a drink - we had a fantastic double room for 50 quid a night and the place was busy all day from the moment it opened for a good breakfast.
It still wouldn't be a place I'd drink in as cathedrals of Ruddles and curry are not my type but a wide cross-section of Salisbury life was on show during our two day visit and we always found something decent to drink.
I have a theory based on regular observation that many people snobbish about Spoons share the same penchant for turning their noses up at Ryanair until, of course, O'Leary opens up a route to their favourite ski resort or second home in some French backwater.
Interestingly both are run by wealthy and opinionated men who built the companies up from nothing.
Perhaps it's envy that drives the Father Ted types waving their Down With That Sort Of Thing placards who make a big show about boycotting both but sneak back for a distress sale when no-one is looking.
And yet I will never set foot in one, purely because of TM's politicsDelete
You have a great situation in Stockport. A cheap as chips spoons with a decent pint and a camra micropub tap next door so all the sanctimonious lot can sit in there, paying twice the price to sneer at the wetherspooners from a safe distance.ReplyDelete
No need for them to pop in for a distress purchase and spoil the vibe. They can keep to themselves.
Ideal. Great set up.
I had beers in both!Delete
Go from Tap to Spoons, you'll be fine.Delete
Go from Spoons to Tap and tell them you've been in Spoons, they make you stand in a defumigation chamber for 10 minutes before you're allowed to sit with the camra clientele
I've always found Wetherspoons to be uniquely diverse in terms of customer base, particularly in smaller towns, where it can run from the value-driven daytime beer drinker to young people with blue hair who might be uncomfortable or wary of getting punched, in more traditional local hostelries. So aside from the value for money, I've not much time for remoaner virtue signalling from people who wouldn't go in there anyway.ReplyDelete
Spoons is also very good if you are travelling on your own, as you broadly know what you are getting, and the app means you can find a table you like, possibly away from mad shouty people or screaming kids, and order (and re-order) without getting up again or wondering whether to leave your bags or take them with you. The app is also very good if you need to claim meals on expenses, as you get an email receipt. If in a hotel without breakfast included, I always look for a local Spoons before paying hotel prices.
That being said, even with reasonable expectations about the quality to expect for the money, at various branches recently, I've found an increased likelihood of food turning up cold, dried out, or overcooked, and tables not cleared or wiped down, so perhaps staffing issues?
Generally find beer OK, but that's usually in Central Manchester where they must have reasonable turnover.
I'm not generally a fan of such things, but I find the app a very good Spoons feature. It allows you to avoid the twin problems of slow bar service and potentially having your seat nicked, it works reliably well, and it's anonymous - they don't require you to sign up. It's also useful to compare the prices between different branches. The only drawback is that there's no way to redeem the CAMRA vouchers when ordering through it.Delete
High Status CAMRA : Rip up your tokens, avoid spoons, proclaim you don't care what the price of beer is.Delete
Low Status CAMRA : Use the app to find the cheapest spoons, queue to get your 50p off & lament there is no digital token
Many people like to show discernment through what products and services they buy and use. Clothes, holidays, cars, beer, pubs, restaurants etcReplyDelete
Wetherspoons have something for everyone and to my eyes are quite pleasant and certainly not objectionable. Part of a portfolio of pubs given by the great Pub God in the sky.
Off the top of my head the only other two services where realistically we are all the same are maternity units and crematoria. Although sure I will be corrected
Birth and death!
Even corporation pop can be substituted with fancy brands
Good for a quick bite when peckish: breakfast, pizza, "nandos", katsu curry. Pop in and you might find Oakham Citra in tip top shape. Or you might find a warm and flat pint (Oxted, Surrey). It is a crapshoot but in the north east changes of winning not too bad. Apparently it depends on the manager.ReplyDelete
Wetherspoons devalue beer and sell it as a cheap commodity.ReplyDelete
CAMRA should have nothing to do with them and their grotty brexity pubs.
The CAMRA vouchers are a disgrace.
Are you the chap who says CAMRA should define once and for all what is "good" beer and what is "not good" beer ?Delete
The EU could define good beer and ensure all member states adhered to it, set a price that sustained artisan brewers and ensured it was appreciated by the discerning and not swilled by gammons. Assurances could drive the rejoin campaign.Delete
The great thing about Mudgie is that he knows exactly when to tap into the beer bloggers' zeitgeist.ReplyDelete
Like Lord Nigel of Farage with Brexit.
The other reason they are well liked is the opening hours, and food service times, are consistent, long, and honoured. You know that if you go in at 10.55pm and order a burger and chips, you will receive it. In too many other pubs its a lottery as to whether "the chef has gone home because it was quiet", or similar reasons.ReplyDelete
Yes, I've discussed in the past how long and dependable hours are one of Spoons' major attractions. The pub trade in general hugely underestimates just how much of a deterrent short and unpredictable hours are. And a wet-only micropub that only opens at 4 pm and is closed on Monday and Tuesday really cannot complain about unfair competition.Delete
Wetherspoons may win a lot of toilet awards but a little known fact is in regard to the quality of plumbing they install. No cheap shortcuts, no accepting historic limitations. It's all industrial capacity installations built for heavy and sustained use. Built for a big man. Trustworthy. No need to panic or worry when sat on a Wetherspoons toilet. It will hold your weight and the handle the volume to come. In a way, it's a public service. Knowing there's a spoons, I know I can go out for the evening and not have to suffer an embarrassing incident.ReplyDelete
Big men appreciate a wetherspoons, soy boys dismiss them.
Have you ever visited the Heaton Tap? The single trap there is begging to be destroyed! :)Delete
I seem to recall that Tim Martin once said that he doesn't run pubs or offer hospitality, but operates sit-in retail outlets that sell beer and food at a lower price point than any of his competitors. It's spot on even if he didn't.ReplyDelete
Not quite all human life in your local Spoons, I've never seen the average Brexit Jacob Rees Mogg type in any Wetherspoons establishment.ReplyDelete
In some market towns and cathedral cities they seem to be popular with gentlefolk for morning coffee.Delete
I recently met a friend at the Spoons in Leytonstone early evening. I couldn't complain at the the prices - less than half that other pubs in the area charged. And this included spirits, wine and soft drinks. The quality of the beer was OK, but nothing special. But there was no atmosphere. All the tables were occupied by single elderly men (occasionally a couple). It was almost like a doctor's waiting room. It had livened up a bit by the time I left, but even so I was a rather depressing experience.ReplyDelete
You see, if they had snugs with bench seating, those old blokes would talk to each other.Delete
The giant drinking barns of wetherspoons remind me of Bavarian beer halls reminiscent of 1930s Germany. Magazines of political propaganda and beer mats promoting hate.ReplyDelete
Drink in micropubs to fight fascism.
Satire is not dead, I see.Delete
Never trust anyone called Gary.Delete