Anger over Hungry Horse pub scrapping children's menus

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Right of reply: the Hem Heath has defended reviews on social media criticising the removal of the children's menu (picture credit: Google Maps)
Right of reply: the Hem Heath has defended reviews on social media criticising the removal of the children's menu (picture credit: Google Maps)

Related tags: Pub, Health

Customers have complained after a major refurbishment of their Hungry Horse pub left them without a children's menu.

The Hem Heath, in Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, which is one of Greene King’s Hungry Horse sites, recently underwent a six-figure refurbishment to its bar, entertainment facilities and garden. New technology to improve sports viewing at the site was also installed as well as an expanded drinks offer.

Customers, however, have responded to the scrapping of the children's menu by giving the pub one star reviews on its Facebook page​.

Amy Wakelin posted: “Food was OK… but having no children’s menu is a big no-no for me and my family.

“The half portion menu is fish, pasta (of which they had none), smothered chicken or lasagne. My children ended up having to have an adult-size Sunday lunch, which totally over-faced them, so was a complete waste of money.

“We then went to sit outside… no children’s play area!!! This place is intentionally trying to deter families with children from coming and I am absolutely disgusted.

“I actually felt like I shouldn’t have been there with my six-year-old and three-year-old. I will not be made to feel like my children aren’t welcome somewhere. Safe to say I will not be returning.”

Paul Clarkson said he used to enjoy visiting the pub and did like the refurbishment, but removing the play area and children’s menu had changed his opinion.

He said: “I have taken many people here for meals with their families and was always quick to recommend it, but now will go elsewhere.

“It’s annoying to see the same ‘we are still family-friendly’ garbage reply to everyone on Facebook. Don’t know why, but this will backfire on your pub.”

The pub did reply on the social media site and thanked Clarkson for his feedback.

Gavin Nicolls said the pub had lost his custom because of the change to the menu.

He said: “Went in today to have family meal only to find the kids menu is no longer available and there won’t be one.

“Sorry, pub looks nice, but you’ve lost my custom. Shame on Hungry Horse for implementing such a stupid idea.”

Community pub

The pub also replied to this review and said: “Gavin, we are a community pub, welcoming everyone from the local area.

“Just because we have taken the kids machines out and removed the play area does not change the fact we don’t (sic) welcome children.

“We want to allow parents and children into the Hem Heath for ‘family time’ without parents being hassled for money for the kids machines (not gonna lie, we will miss the profit on them), we have renamed/reduced the kids menu to a half portions menu, which is healthier options.

“We want families to come to us, enjoy food and family time at the table with healthier food options for the children.

“By all means, everyone is welcome to bring their own kids entertainment to keep them occupied. Thanks for your feedback. Mat and the team.”

Sam Edwards also commented on the removal of the children’s menu and play area.

She said: “No kids menu, only a couple of choices that you can have as a half portion. No play area any more to entertain the kids before and after meals.

“I think a lot of custom will be lost unfortunately. We won’t be returning for our weekly family meal.”

Again, the pub replied, thanking Edwards for the review and feedback, signed off by ‘Mat – general manager’.

Tanya Nicholls went into detail about how she found her visit to the pub since the makeover and said she was “flabbergasted” at the scrapping of the kid’s menu.

She said: “OK so I shared this post earlier about the Hem Heath pub in Trentham in the hope of winning a voucher, so thought we would go for tea and check out the new refurb.

“Only to sit down and find no children’s menus so we asked a member of staff and her reply was ‘we don’t do children’s meals any more’, that they wanted to be known as a ‘local’ for adults and that they had also taken away any children’s machines they once had.

“If you’re going to go this far, why even bother having high chairs?! I was completely flabbergasted as to how unwelcome I felt with my children. What was I to order for them?

“As realistically an adult portion would be too big and doubtful they would eat that variety of food anyway.

“Also, why on earth should I be forced to pay for an adult-sized meal for a six, four and a one-year-old.

“Safe to say we left feeling very disgruntled and went to another family​ pub and had a lovely meal. Is it just me, or does anyone else think they are going to lose a lot of money and custom doing this?”

Encouraging families

Once again, the pub defended itself against the criticism. Nicholls said the staff had told her about being a ‘local for adults'.

It responded to the review and said: “Hi Tanya. I do not for one second believe my team members said that.

“We are a community pub, welcoming all from the local areas. Yes, we may have removed the play area, we may have reduced the kids menu and renamed it to a half-portions menu, which is better value and more healthier meals.

“This does not mean we do not want children. We are encouraging families to come and have family time, sit down at the table and enjoy their food.

“We are a pub that serves great value food and beer. My team give great service and they are not robots to what you normally find in a chain pub. Thanks for your feedback.  Regards, Mat.”

However, many other customers lauded the new look of the pub alongside the food and service.

Elizabeth Connell described the meal she had as “excellent”, called the staff “very friendly and helpful” and said the new décor was “very tasteful and classy”.

She added: “Mat, the manager is very welcoming and does a great job with motivating the team. I can honestly say that an evening at the Hem Heath is very enjoyable and the staff always make you feel welcome. Well done to you all.”

Martin Neves said he loved the new refurb and that it was “stylish, modern and caters for all”.

He added: “The idea to get families to sit together during meal times is genius. In this day and age, it is nice to sit together and enjoy each other’s company rather than be mivered for money! Well done Mat and team.”

The pub replied, thanking Neves for this feedback.

Vikki Thomas called the new look of the pub “fabulous” and said it was great to chill out and enjoy food without having “screaming, rude children running about the place”. Again, the pub thanked Thomas for her review.

A Hem Heath spokesman confirmed the change in menu for children, but did not confirm the removal of the kid’s play area.

He said: “We’ve received really positive feedback from customers following the reopening.

“The six-figure refurbishment has seen us invest in improving the bar, entertainment and garden areas, including expanding our drink range and introducing new technology to improve sports viewing.

“We have also launched a new half-portions menu for those with smaller appetites, which replaces our kids menu.”

Related topics: News, Greene King, Food

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