Food is not the only answer - says Andrew Pring

By Andrew Pring

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Leisure

Andrew Pring
Andrew Pring
Futurologists - people who make their living sticking a wet finger in the air - don't have a great track record. Years ago, Eagle readers will...

Futurologists - people who make their living sticking a wet finger in the air - don't have a great track record.

Years ago, Eagle readers will remember how space travel was just around the corner. All of us can recall wistfully how workloads were going to shrink. Whatever happened to that leisure time we were all once going to enjoy?

Futurologists are busy in the pub trade at the moment. They're saying that food is the future for pubs. They're predicting that only those pubs with a decent-to-excellent food offer have a hope of surviving the smoking ban and all the leisure changes we're witnessing. Basically, after centuries of vigorous and healthy life, they're saying the wet-led pub is well and truly dead.

What rubbish! They might just as well tell us that people of all ages, backgrounds and tastes no longer want to drop into a place where they can enjoy a sociable time in a relaxing environment. They might just as well say that people no longer want to go somewhere they can have a lively drink with their mates, or a quiet drink with their partner. They might just as well suggest that food is all people are interested in, rather than the chance to unwind and let alcohol play its time-honoured role in taking your mind off your troubles.

They might just as well say that people want restaurants rather than pubs. What rubbish!

If the futurologists stopped focusing on sound-bites for a moment, they'd see that wet-led pubs have a brilliant future - as long as they get two things right. This is not a lesson in rocket science - we all know what these fundamentals are. Firstly, totally consistent beer: no off pints, no warm pints, no dirty glasses (no plastic glasses, either - but that's another issue) and no Guinness-in-a-Stella-glass type of servings. The same applies to every other type of drink you serve, obviously. Secondly, great atmosphere: friendly, smiling staff and a licensee who knows his customers - and clean loos, of course.

And that's it. OK - attractive surroundings, such as decent furniture, non-peeling walls and so on, would be pretty good too. But if the drink is right and the atmosphere friendly, you should still be on to a winner for years to come.

Now, that's not to put you off food. Clearly, it's massive for pubs - and a good food offer will be the future for many licensees. The Morning Advertiser's "Get Into Food" series, and our monthly sister title PubChef will help guide you to that future.

But don't despair if food is not where you want to be. Just make sure, whatever you do, you do it brilliantly.

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