Sunday, 2 January 2011

Is This Right?


After a lot of buggering about on New Year's Eve due to sick visiting, we finally made it to the pub at around half past three. We had intended to visit the Landlady in Delph, but that didn't work out time wise, so we went to the Baum, where there was an excellent atmosphere and Hawkshead Windermere Pale. No complaints there. Simon the landlord was gearing up to his New Year's Evening do, which had a gangsters and molls theme. We inspected the poster; no entrance fee and food, if you wanted it, was a fiver a pop. A customer asked what time the kitchen would be open until. "Nine o'clock for normal meals service" was the answer. Thereafter, presumably, you forked up your fiver.

On the way home, we decided to call into a local Lees pub, the Ship Inn. It was heaving. "Sorry the bar closed at five to prepare for tonight" we were told. My protest that we only wanted a quick pint and that it was only five past five were swept aside. I reasoned then that we'd go to the Rose of Lancaster, which is tied to Lees, but unlike the tenanted Ship, is managed. Surely a food led managed house would definitely be open? At ten past five all external lights were off and the doors shut. So no, it wouldn't be.

On the way home we checked out every pub we passed. The Old Cock (Lees) was in darkness. The Nowster (Lees) similar. The Carter's Arms (Lees) seemed to be open and trading, the Lancashire Fold (Lees, managed) was in semi darkness and presumably closed to the thirsty. Thornberries (Free) had the doors closed and the curtains drawn.

Now call me naive, but is this a good state of affairs? I have a lot of sympathy for hard pressed tenants who need a rest before opening late and serving like people possessed into the wee small hours, but not much for a managed house who can't keep the doors open. Of course, and call me suspicious if you like, I think it is reasonable to assume that those keeping potential customers out were looking to maximise revenue by charging entry to revellers later. That's fine and dandy, but is 5 p.m. a reasonable time to kick people out? I think not and it is instructive to note that the Baum, a former CAMRA Pub of the Year seemed to be taking a more customer friendly line.

These are hard times, and it seems to me as a very regular pub goer, that I was sidelined for the later lure of a pack of high spending occasional drinkers. Is the denial of service in this way something that happens elsewhere in the UK, or is it a local thing?

I know it is only once a year, but is it right that those who do not intend to pay to go to the pub for New Year celebrations are consequently denied a tea time time pint at the very reasonable hour of five pm? I somehow think it isn't.

19 comments:

Rabidbarfly said...

in total agreement with you. I'd also like to make this point....
Why should customers have to pay to enter a pub they usually go into every day/week for free? Is that right?

Barm said...

I consider it a bonus to find a decent pub open on New Year's Day at all (and still being closed on the 2nd is not unusual), but then Scotland is a bit different.

Paul Bailey said...

More and more pubs seem to be charging an entrance fee on New Year's Eve (makes a mockery of the term "public house"), but I've not come across pubs that would normally be open all day, closing late afternoon/early evening "to prepare for later".
Surely pubs should be glad of every penny at the moment!

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

I can almost trump you...

The Unicorn in Gunthorpe (Notts) is now a Marstons pub.

At three in the afternoon on New Years Eve the pub was open, and they were due to remain that way for the duration.

They were not, however, serving any Marston's beer - out of any of the numerous pumps - because the beer itself was "LYING DOWN READY FOR TONIGHT..."

Now, the staff taking a pre-emptive rest is one thing.. but the ale?!

'Delivery timing issues' were mentioned, but that didn't stop me from laughing all the way home.

Birkonian said...

Funnily enough a group of us were upset to arrive at the Baum at midday yesterday to find that the pub wasn't going to open 'till 4p.m. Having travelled from Wirral we wern't impressed. They missed out on at least a couple of dozen thirsty Tranmere Rovers supporting CAMRA members plus no doubt a number of locals. Pubs complaining about hard times do themselves no favours when they ignore customers in this manner.
On the same subject, a number of pubs in London decided that closing from 25th to 29th December was a good idea just when the capital was swollen with thousands of tourists with time to kill and money to spend.
Steve Hannigan

Anonymous said...

As a publican of a Freehold we open at 1200hrs every day 365 days a year and close midnight "ish".

Probably our most social evening over the holiday was when I worked the bar with my wife on Xmas Day, that was a very late night/morning !

Most of the local pubs close at 3pm and reopen at 7pm.

But over the holiday because of cold weather several just closed up shop, one in particular closed despite having a booking for a party of 40.

I really cannot understand their thinking.

Even as I post this 1845hrs Sunday we have a packed bar.

And as for charging an admittance fee at any time - that will not happen.

Billy

Sid Boggle said...

Generally, I agree it's a stitch-up. I recall a place I used to drink in being heaving at lunchtime New Year's Eve (around 1999 IIRC), and the manager offering me and a mate his 'last couple' of NYE tickets at £30 a pop as we were 'regulars'. Haven't done NYE in a pub since.

Birkonian's experience of London this time round matches my own. I'd expect the usual suspects around the City to be closed, but there were loads of other places shut through to the other side of the 'Bank Holiday'. And I wish those bars and pubs with maintained websites or blogs could have posted their modified hours. Pat on the back for Cask and The Rake, a Boggle Raspberry to the Euston Tap, who were closed on Tuesday 28th when me and a couple of friends from the US visited.

Birkonian said...

I tried the Euston Tap twice on the 28th, vainly hoping the 2nd time that I'd been too early the 1st. At least it gave me momentum to visit the Southampton Arms in Kentish Town - a real pub. Later that afternoon I popped down to the Market Porter to find it was about to close at 4.30 despite being crowded. I watched with that sense of smugness, tinged with sympathy one has when clutching a full pint, as numerous people walked in expecting a good time only to be to be disappointed.

Sue said...

Also fallen foul of this twice over our last week's holiday in Norfolk - both pubs were listed in either the GBG or the GPG. The White Horse at Overstrand was shut on Boxing Day night, not too irritating as it was only a mile up the road, and the Fat Cat in Norwich was shut all New Year's Eve, with just notices posted on the doors to say they'd be open on New Year's Day. Very annoying as we'd been looking forward to the best range of beer in town.

Birkonian said...

The pubs want sympathy for the effects of the recession, supermarket competition etc. but don't help themselves by closing when people are mostly off work.

Cooking Lager said...

can you not find a 24 hour Tesco, tand?

RedNev said...

Whether it's right not to open is a matter of opinion, but not being clear about what your pub will be doing in terms of clear notices giving the holiday opening times well in advance and admission charges where levied is definitely wrong. Variable closing times ("We'll stay open if there's enough people in") is counter-productive, as people will leave anyway rather than risk being told later "We've decided to close": they'll just go somewhere which is definitely open. Pub websites tend to be unchanging, never giving details of what happens on special occasions; most are therefore next to useless.

I do wonder about the business acumen of some people who run pubs: they seem to make rods for their own backs.

Tandleman said...

Birkonian - You make a different point and I suppose it might just have been wise, given that they were likely up until God knows when, to have rang to check if they'd be open.

Football and pubs often, like it or lump it, sometimes results in changed rules. I can say if it helps, that one of my Rochdale supporting friends had a drink with 3 of your lot beforehand, met them after the match and drove them back to the station. Hope that redresses the balance a bit.

Tandleman said...

Paul - My very point. If people want to pay to get in a pub that's up to them, but to stop me getting a drink at five pm is unreasonable.

HardKnott Dave said...

On the Monday after Christmas the trains from our station, that should have been running at roughly 1 per hour, ended up only having 2 trains all day.

Conductors strike apparently.

I think I shall always wonder about the customer focus of train conductors in future.

Birkonian said...

To be fair, we had to travel through Rochdale town centre anyway en route to the football so there wasn't much point in phoning in advance. Wetherspoons were open and full with over 100 customers so there was a market for pubs to open. My point is that pubs often see customers as a hindrance rather than the most important component of the business.
I was disappointed because I'd heard such good reports regarding the Baum. I'd made the effort to get up at 8 a.m. to walk 1 mile, catch two trains and a replacement bus service. I had to make do with the typically unappealing range of beers in said Wetherspoon's and a poor range of Black Sheep, Landlord or a dreadful Three Bs Xmas beer in the Cemetery Hotel. A friend of mine suggested we visit the Baum post-match but I decided to make my own pointless protest and hot-foooted it back to the Marble Arch a.s.a.p. They had opend at Noon and were scheduled to close at 1:00 a.m. Just a pity my last train home left a long time before that.

Tyson said...

This practice of lots of pubs charging for New Year’s Eve seems to have started from the Millennium shenanigans. It’s ok if you get something extra for your money, which used to be the case. However, and Wetherspoons have started doing this, some pubs now demand an entry fee simply to enjoy the same experience you can have every day for free.
I think you’re being too hard on the Baum. Of course you were disappointed to find it closed, but that’s hardly unexpected after New Year’s Eve when it was hammered.

It’s interesting you had a poor experience in the Regal Moon-normally a very good pub-which was also hammered on NYE. If it wasn’t part of a chain and obliged to do so, I’m sure it would also have been closed.

Anonymous said...

If you drank in some 'local ' pubs more often you will have known their closing times, that are surely advertised well in advance and is probably a repeat of previous years.

Rabidbarfly said...

always some 'anonymous' git who criticises without naming themselves. Oops did I say that out loud.....