Wednesday, 31 March 2010

It isn't a Pub Stupid


Mitchells and Butlers, the Midlands based, er, um, well, Pub Company, sort of, has been outlining a new strategy. It seems they don't run pubs any more, but " licensed catering outlets". One journalist was even bollocked for calling these um, er, thingies, pubs.

Of course if you look at the "brands" they intend to concentrate on, they are right. Harvester, Toby Carvery, Crown Carveries, Vintage Inns, Sizzling Pub Company and Premium Country Dining are the future of M&B it seems. Wet led pubs will be sold to pay for more of these. They'll clearly have to change the name of the "Sizzling Pub Company" to " The Sizzling Licensed Catering Outlet Company" of course, but once that's sorted, it's job done.

Don't know why they bothered making a point of it. Nobody in their right minds would call that lot pubs anyway.

21 comments:

Cooking Lager said...

They even had the cheek to up the £3 carvery at crown carveries to almost £4 to pay for this.

Dubbel said...

In all fairness, some of their unbranded 'Castle' estate pubs in and around London are very good.

Curmudgeon said...

Except where they're new-builds they once were pubs, though, which is what makes it all so depressing.

Coxy said...

The Nicholson brands have a few good ones in London too, most are definetly pubs also. They are also labelled as Nicholson pubs on the M&B website!

Tandleman said...

True, but the trend in M&B as indicated by the company, is to move away from wet led. That's fine, but in amongst the remaining pubs in the country there are so many where eating is the main aim, often to the exclusion of someone just wanting a pint, to make you question what the true figure of "proper" pubs in this country really is.

The question has been asked before. When does a pub cease to be a pub and just be a restaurant.

Cooking Lager said...

Table service (ordering at table, not bar), table booking, and inability to just sit and have a pint, Tandy.

Tandleman said...

That's 'one' definition. I think it was Mudgie that explored this one before on his blog.

Curmudgeon said...

There are pubs that major on food but still function effectively as pubs too, so it can be hard to draw an exact line.

I would say two key factors are:

(a) every table is laid with place settings, and
(b) people just wanting a drink are actively made unwelcome

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com said...

£3? It's £8.50 at Toby's. And the beer is shit.

Paul Garrard said...

It is very hard to determine when a pub is not a pub. Sometimes it is something that you sense and know rather than a set of criteria. Lacking that PC's definition fits the bill.

Paul Garrard said...

It is very hard to determine when a pub is not a pub. Sometimes it is something that you sense and know rather than a set of criteria. Lacking that PC's definition fits the bill.

Barm said...

If they can't compete with Spoons on beer, how on earth do they think they can do it on microwave meals?

Curmudgeon said...

Different location, different market - there are probably very few locations where they're in direct competition with a nearby Spoons.

coxy said...

M&B competed directly with spoons with The Goose pubs, very cheap beer and food. Still one on the North end road but I don't know if they are still going as a Brand?

Tyson said...

The Goose chain were a blatant copy of the JDW brand. However, copying is not the same as emulating. They failed to have the right locations, failed to push cask beer the way Spoons does and generally failed to establish themselves as a brand. They slowly faded into obscurity, although there are still a few knocking about here and there.

ChrisM said...

The Goose in Newcastle is a grim pub, more of a drinking barn than any Spoons. They do cask ale occasionally, though, but who knows what state it's going to be in.

The Newcastle Arms is also an M&B pub, one of the best real ale pubs in the toon - no food, no music, no nonsense, a landlord who isn't afraid to buy outside of the tie and a pub co that don't seem to mind! What will happen to it now, I wonder?

Jeffrey said...

I operate table service at lunchtime and people can and do call ahead to reserve tables at busy times. Does that mean The Gunmakers isn't a pub?

I can see where he's coming from, but I think the commenter above "Cooking Lager" needs to rethink his definition.

It's perfectly possible for a pub - even a small one like mine - to remain a pub whilst also attracting people to eat and providing a proper service on that front.

As for the subject of Tandleman's post - one of the great things about being in Central London is that the horrendous branded chains me mentions aren't evident at all. They have a market though - witless provincials in hatchbacks with screaming kids! ;-)

Tandleman said...

A reminder to my anonymous poster who used the c word re the above. These kind of comments will be deleted as indeed it has been.

Pete Brown said...

Oh, you beat me to this one.

Whitbread are the same - look on their website and none of their - um - outlets are pubs either - they're restaurants apparently.

For companies to be ashamed of what their core business actually is is sickening.

Barm said...

Is anyone the slightest bit surprised when it's Whitbread, though? On the company history page the first 230 years of the company are given less space than the list of sales and acquisitions of tedious leisure brands since 1982. That sums Whitbread up. Once the biggest brewer in the world, maker of legendary beers, all thrown away to go and run crappy coffee bars and service station cafeterias that nobody would care about if they all disappeared tomorrow.

Thom Farrell said...

Brewer's Fayre current slogan - "pub food as it should be". This is Whitbread's main restaurant brand. But they also describe them as restaurants. So they're pub-restaurants?

http://www.brewersfayre.co.uk/restaurants/