Thursday 9 November 2023

Passing on the torch

The well-known Laurieston Bar in Glasgow has been put on the market due to the retirement of the owners John and James Clancy, who have run it for forty years. I’ve never been there, but from the description it sounds a splendid establishment, and by all accounts is something of a local institution. It also has a striking, unspoilt 1960s interior that qualifies for a three-star entry on CAMRA’s National Inventory. Let us hope that they can find new owners who will carry on its traditions.

However, this illustrates a fundamental problem for owner-managed pubs and bars. Whenever the time comes round for the current owners to retire, they have to find someone else to take it on, and there’s no guarantee that its character will be maintained , or indeed that it will remain as a pub at all. Obviously breweries and pub companies have a far from flawless track record in keeping pubs open, but at least when one licensee retires there is the opportunity to maintain continuity by installing a replacement. With the free house, every time a licensee retires or wants to leave the trade, it is put “in play”.

Only this week, there has been another example of this more locally with the Wharf in Macclesfield which, like the Laurieston, is a current Good Beer Guide entry.


  1. The Laurieston is a great pub. From the outside it looks rough as hell, and I suspect 20 years ago that was the case. But nowdays it isn't and unusually for Scotland it sells brilliantly well kept real ale. It's one of only about half a dozen pubs in central Glasgow where you can guarantee to find well kept beer.

  2. Professor Pie-Tin10 November 2023 at 13:50

    For the life of me I can't imagine anyone taking on a pub these days with the intention of remaining with it for 40 years.
    Being a publican is a dying breed.
    You're just an insignificant cog in some pub company/multinational's corporate plans with few incentives to succeed and as easily disposable as a used condom.
    It's why you find so many people who hate the general public working in the hospitality industry.
    And so few publicans who actually drink beer.
    Over here in the States it is totally different.
    Even though I've visited regularly here for 50 years I still can't get over how great service is in even the humblest bars and restaurants.
    We spent yesterday afternoon in Florida's Fort Myers, devastated a year ago by Cat 5 Hurricane Ian.
    Some businesses are still wrecked, others have already been re-built and those that haven't yet are fully open with trailers and tents operating and flourishing where a bar or restaurant once stood.
    Like The Beach Bar. Now just a trailer, a stage next to line of temporary bogs, a few tables and chairs and a hundred people getting pissed in the sand listening to a live band. Beer was $5 a can.$11 for two with a buck tip.
    Overwhelmingly it was young people ( anyone under 40 for this pensioner ) working in hospitality.All enthusiastic.All making good money from tips.All genuinely friendly.
    I once abhorred the American tipping culture where 20% is the norm on everything.Now I think it could be the saviour of Britain's tired and often rude hospitality business.

  3. Professor Pie-Tin10 November 2023 at 16:12

    One example comes to mind.
    A few days ago the missus and I sat down for a three-bottle of wine four hour lunch.
    Knowing that all portions are huge we started with an appetizer of smoked yellow fin tuna dip and some fresh calamari.
    About an hour or so later and motoring through the second bottle of Chardonnay herself orders a sensational homemade seafood mac and cheese but only managed to eat about half of it. Nowt for me as I had my wine goggles on.
    About an hour later she asks for it to be reheated.
    Out comes a completely fresh order - they're not allowed to reheat old food by some 'elf and safety rule - and it's on the house.
    That gets us both through the third bottle.
    120 quid the lot.
    Set us up nicely for an evening of beer and shots watching a band on beach as the sun went down.
    I happily gave them a 25 quid tip.
    As you get older life just isn't worth putting up with shite service any more

    1. These are quite funny

  4. I've only used the Laurieston once, ten years ago, and found the attentiveness of the Clancy brothers as impressive as the striking unspoilt 1960s interior. My top Scottish pub.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. Unregistered comments will generally be rejected unless I recognise the author. If you want to comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.