Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kendal Pubs

Last Friday I was out for an annually tour of a few of Kendal's town centre pubs, two things jumped out at me, how quiet some pubs are and the wide range in the price of a pint.  In some pubs it was close to £3 a pint !!

The Fleece had half the pubs closed of with half of what was open devoted to a dance floor that cleared every ten minutes, totally different to 10 years ago when it would be full the bursting.  The Wine Bar and Bootleggers held it's own being , Wetherspoon's had good ale at reasonable prices.

The Fleece received some unfounded interest in a news report in the Gazette a couple of months back on the struggling Punch Tavern's, the gazette placed a photo of the Fleece by the report which made customers think The Fleece was at risk of closing, based on my evening visit last week I would probable of thought the same thing.  In the comments the landlord/lady of The Fleece wrote about the impact the report had made, from their posts to me it looks like they have looked to other income streams (food, group bookings) to mitigate the reducing evening trade.  A week later the Gazette did a report to try and rectify the confusion that inclusion of the photo made.

Kendal used to have a lot of pubs, always popular, possible a high ratio per population than most places, so why have Kendal's pubs been closing, these are few suggests which may apply to some or all:-

Brewery/Chain Rents
I know of at least one pub in Kendal that closed as a result of notice of a increase in rent, landlord rightly wasn't willing to run at a loss and gave notice back to the pub chain that wanted to put in a rent increase.  I think this is the biggest problem, the industry not helping themselves

Wholesale Beverage Pricing
Tide pubs generally have no choice but to buy from the one supplier at the prices dictated, another example of the industry not helping themselves

Business Rates
Rates are charged based on the valuation of the size of the premises, Gazette ran a report this month on 3 local pubs complaining about the rates, but have the chain's just got themselves to blimey for increasing the rents.  Would it be better to decrease the rents and then push to have the rates reduced.

Cheap Supermarket Prices
The industry tries to put the decline in the pub industry down to cheap beer in the supermarkets, but I don't buy that argument, if you have a good pub people will come.

Pub Landlords
For some pubs it can be down to the management, alienate the regulars, be unwelcoming and people will desert in the droves.  Pubs that do well know their customers and welcome new ones.

Change in Customer Base
People are finding other things to do, weekends in front of the TV is king again, go into work after a weekend and people will be talking about TV.

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