As someone who likes pubs, I'm always interested in the dynamics of the business that lies behind the public face. The back end if you like and particularly the thought processes of the "offer" - what you do to attract customers. Pubs have changed a lot since I started drinking in them. Then a pub, put simply, was in the main for drinking in, with the added welcome extra of a degree of social interaction and perhaps some entertainment in the form of darts or some board games. It was a simple place, with those with televisions being regarded as rather sophisticated - but then again I lived in the West of Scotland. Food when offered, was basic stuff - pies, sandwiches and the like and was seen as an inducement to make you stay, or to attract you at lunchtime, back in the days when lunchtimes at the office were more often than not spent having a quick couple of pints and a sandwich or filled roll. What they were not, for better or worse, was the pseudo restaurants which many pubs today have become.
I've mentioned this before here a few times and was reminded of it again, as I am sometimes, on my recent trip to the area around Ironbridge and Shrewsbury. Pubs still seem like pubs used to be in this neck of the wood and in the adjoining areas of the West Midlands and the Black Country. By that I mean that more of the old fashioned type have survived and seem to thrive, though of course the pub/restaurant is very evident too. What's the point of all this? Well it is of course the pub snack. Filled rolled rolls, pork pies, scotch eggs the size of a baby's head abounded. Us veteran topers could munch on a well made cheese and onion cob while getting on with the serious business of boozing. We even saw the good old "pie warmer" a few times.
Now I'm not saying that we should flip back to the era of Life on Mars, but this mixed economy seems to work. It was good to be able to get a simple but filling sandwich that didn't cost £5.95, come with chunky chips and was so big that it put you off your beer. It was good to graze in one pub with a scotch egg then have something else later on in another. It may not suit everyone, but surely simple cheap snacks for those pubs that concenrate as much on beer as food would be a good thing to offer customers?
Times is hard, but wouldn't having a look at snack menus as a low cost way of trying to attract a few more customers and keep them once you've got them, be a worthwhile exercise for many pubs?
I very much welcome the return of the scotch egg in some pubs. London leads in this. Well done. It is the perfect pub snack. This fine example, with black pudding came from the Golden Ball in Ironbridge and cost £1.50
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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