City focus: members of the MA Leaders Club gathered in Bristol for the last meeting of the year (image: Getty/Andy Sage)


Operators reveal the secrets behind trading in Bristol

By Nikkie Thatcher

Sustainability and independent venues are important to the pubgoers of Bristol, delegates at The Morning Advertiser's MA Leaders Club heard in the city this week (Wednesday 13 September).

Mass closure: Bristol pubs shut doors (Getty/ Emely)

4 pubs in 500-metre radius shut doors

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

Four pubs in Bristol within a five-minute radius of each other all announced they were shutting for good last week.

Almondsbury Creative, Almondsbury, Bristol   Part-pub, part-community sports complex, the Almondsbury is a labour of love for owner Garth Jackson.   Situated just off the M5, the site is home to tennis, football and cricket clubs, all of which have seen a healthy rise in memberships since Garth and his team took the reins.   The pub itself offers an entertainment-led package that includes numerous private hire spaces that also host smaller local clubs and societies. There’s a cinema room to keep the children occupied, while a weekly Creative Kids Creative Club injects a bit of good old-fashioned holiday camp-style entertainment into proceedings.   Bigger events throughout the year bring the local community together and have attracted acts including Wagner from Britain’s Got Talent and seventies musical cider drinkers The Wurzels.      Gaggle of Geese, Buckland Newton, Dorset   Sarah and Simon Colquhoun took over this rural village pub five years ago and have set about transforming the five-acre site into a family destination pub through continuous and astute investment.   They’ve bought a retired double decker bus and turned into a soft play facility, transformed fields to the rear of the pub into a flourishing campsite with glamping tents and shepherd’s huts, and even built a crazy golf course from scratch to help keep kids entertained at no extra charge.   The Gaggle of Geese is also home to a quartet pf pygmy goats that children can feed with bags of food available at the bar.   The pub has featured in several broadsheet holiday and hospitality guides, helping to add to its burgeoning reputation.      Puss In Boots, Stockport   As part of the Almond Family Pubs group, a family focus is written into the DNA of the Puss In Boots.   The team is fully-committed to providing great product and great service on a daily basis, with an ethos around inclusivity that means all family members can enjoy the experience.   One of its most notable innovations is the introduction of a visual menu for children who have special educational needs, comprising pictures of menu items that stick on laminated card with Velcro. It allows the users to point out to servers what they want to order, bringing them into the dining experience, without having to rely on their parents.       Ye Olde Bridge, Oxton, Nottinghamshire   Hannah Lloyd took over Ye Olde Bridge four years ago, since which she’s invested considerably to create an attractive modern gastropub with a growing local reputation that caters for families of whatever shape or size.   The pub now has a playground, a soft play dome and a maze to keep the kids entertained, but it’s a venue that puts as much value on 70th birthday parties as celebrations for the youngest members of the family.   Ye Olde Bridge makes sure it’s a community-focused hub, with weekday coffee mornings for new mums, or tai chi and yoga classes in the huge meadow to the rear, performing an important role in bringing people together in a rural location where high street coffee chains can’t be found.   The pub’s standalone refurbished barn gives it an extra events revenue stream, while sustainability credentials are in evidence, including beehives on-site.       The Railway, Lowdham, Nottinghamshire   Community-focused events are a major generator of positive family vibes at this food-led pub.   A calendar highlight is a Kids Garden Party on the last school day of the summer term, with a barbecue, face-painting, children’s entertainers, live music and a tuck shop helping to get the holidays off to a roaring start.   The switching-on of the Christmas lights provides more of a wintry take with fake snow and a countdown, followed by Santa descending form the pub roof to distribute presents.   But it’s not just about the showpiece events that hit home, with the service from general manager Drew Cox’s friendly and professional team providing a great family pub experience all year round.      The River Garden, Harefield, Middlesex   There are several ways to get to The River Garden. There’s plenty of car parking space; you can arrive by long boat on the Grand Union Canal that passes by the end of its huge garden; or you stop off for refreshment after cycling down the canal towpath, making use of the pub’s bike racks.   Once there, you’ll find a sumptuous modern pub that has enjoyed major investment from owner Flamur “Tony” Gashi. There’s a luxury feel to the décor and fittings, a food and drink offering that’s pitched at a premium level, and two play areas for those with young children.     The River Garden is a fine example of how thoughtful investment and attention to detail can transform the fortunes of ailing pub sites.

gbpa 2022

Meet the finalists for Best Pub for Families

By The Morning Advertiser

This year's final six in the Best Pub for Families category include some impressive initiatives. Here we take a closer look at the shortlist.

NTIA summit to take place from 7 to 8 April 2022: celebrating the resilience, community spirit and adaptability of the sector (Credit: Getty/X2Photo)

NTIA summit celebrating sector to take place in April

By Rebecca Weller

The first edition of the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) Night-Time Economy (NTE) Summit has been confirmed to take place from 7 to 8 April 2022 in conjunction with Bristol Nights and Savenightlife.

Social hub: phone-bans promote conversation and interaction (Getty/ Riou)

Phones kill conversation say micropub owners

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

UK micropub owners said that phones “kill” conversation and show a “lack of respect”, while pub phone-bans help promote social interaction after lockdown-induced isolation.

City economies: night time economy adviser for Bristol, Carly Heath, night czar for London, Amy Lamé and night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, wrote to Rishi Sunak together. (image: Alena Kravchenko / Getty)

Cities’ night czars call for more support

By Emily Hawkins

Night-time economy advisers in Bristol, London and Greater Manchester have written to the Chancellor urging for more support in an “unprecedented period of restrictions.”

Great achievement: The Alchemist is to invest £4.5m on three new openings

Triple opening plans for The Alchemist

By Mark Wingett, MCA

The Alchemist, the Palatine Private Equity-backed cocktail bar and restaurant concept, is to invest £4.5m on three new openings, including its first moves into the south west and Wales.

Pub chef opinion: Pioneering quality food in the west

Pub chef opinion: Pioneering quality food in the west

By Josh Eggleton

Perhaps it goes without saying, but I love to cook. So it will come as no surprise that eating out is one of my favourite pastimes. Not only is eating good food in good company enjoyable, but I always find something to learn.

Loungers: aiming for 24 sites by next April

Loungers prepares to launch its 18th site

By Mark Wingett, M&C Report

Multi-site operator Loungers is set to open its 18th venue at the end of June, its second Cosy Club outlet in Bath, as it reveals more details of...