London pubs are eagerly anticipating the official start to the 2012 Olympic Games tonight, with the opening ceremony due to take place at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford at 9pm.
The Games present a massive opportunity for pubs, and those licensees within touching distance of Olympic venues in London are hoping for a welcome upturn in trade once the event officially kicks off tonight.
“There is definitely going to be a boost,” said Paul McGilloway, licensee of the Langthorne pub on Stratford’s Broadway.
“We have got a lot of people out there, and by the station, trying to get people to the pub. We have decorated the whole pub, and will be opening at 7am for breakfast and later in the evenings. We are really pushing the best of British with our beers and food.
“I think it is going to be busy - I thought it would be busier at the moment but I think a few of the locals have gone on holiday.
“Day by day we are seeing new faces arrive and we are just waiting for it to start now. Let’s see what happens.”
“I am looking forward to it,” said Janet Dooner, owner of the Railway Tavern, and chair of Newham Pubwatch. “We have a lot of the volunteers coming in after they have finished their shift and I am meeting a lot of people from other countries which is nice.”Dooner said that trade had been down since the road outside the pub had been closed to non-Olympic traffic. “But I knew all along that was going to happen,” she added. ‘We have just got to get on with it and try and do the best we can.”
Craig Pritchard, assistant manager of the Goose on Stratford’s Broadway, said he is expecting an upturn in trade during the Games. “We are definitely looking forward to it,” he said. “We have been building-up and preparing for the last month effectively. It was a bit quiet early in the week but we are expecting it to be pretty crazy from Saturday onwards.
“We are showing the sports all day long and the opening ceremony will be live in the pub tomorrow. If anyone wants to watch another sport at any point, we will put it on for them. It is going to be crazy but we are very excited about it.”
“We are very ready for it - bring it on!,” added Sophie Smith, manager of JD Wetherspoon’s Golden Grove pub, in Stratford.
Meanwhile, Young’s pub The Ship, in Wandsworth, is putting on a range of live entertainment to mark the official opening of the Olympic Games tonight.
In addition to screening the ceremony on its big-screen TVs, the pub will be hosting its regular bands from 7.30pm as well as internet video sensation ‘One Pound Fish Man’, who will perform his acclaimed market stall song for lucky pub-goers.
For those of you who haven’t seen him before, click here for a sneak preview. Needless to say, the pub will be selling fish for one pound from its barbecue all night.
Daisy Loganathan, manager of Stonegate’s the Lost Hour in Greenwich, is also hoping for a boost in trade during the Games, as the pub is within touching distance of Greenwich Park which hosts the equestrian from tomorrow.Loganathan admits that the Games do pose “a catch-22” for pubs. “I think there is an element of ‘are people going to want to go straight to and from the events and avoid doing anything else?’,” said Loganathan. “If that is the case, the Games would be seen as detrimental to the pub.”
However, she added that footfall around the pub has already increased and that she is eagerly anticipating the start of the Games. “I think we are at the point where everyone has prepared and it is like the calm before the storm. People are just keen for it to get started now. We are all looking forward to it.”
The Lost Hour has dressed itself up for the Games and is holding an opening ceremony party tonight, with all the events being shown in the pub throughout. It is also offering fish & chip cones to customers and will be holding parties whenever a British athlete progresses.
The Olympics finish on Sunday 12 August, with the Paralympic Games taking place from 29 August to 9 September.
The PMA will be running a Daily Diary with Railway Tavern licensee Janet Dooner from Monday (30 July) for the duration of the Olympics.