Blog: pubs must save themselves

Published on January 15, 2014

By Matt Wright

Save our pubs? How about they try to save themselves first?

I was recently at an Everards pub called The Tudor on the very urban-feeling Tudor Road in Leicester. Tenant landlord Andrew Trickett cooked a tasty pop-up meal to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support using some locally sourced ingredients. A few months earlier, in association with De Montfort University’s Square Mile project, he set up a makeshift cinema in his pub’s barn, near the site of Leicester’s old Tudor Cinema. He showed some movies with Leicestershire links (The Elephant Man being one, naturally), put on a Polish film night to appeal to the local Eastern European community and even got one of the sons of the original Dambusters to do a talk before screening the film of the same name.

The reason I mention this is because lots of people are crying into their beer about British pub closures. We must visit and support our pubs, we are told, or we’ll lose them. I love pubs but the trouble is some that want our custom aren’t doing a great deal to encourage us to visit. Lots I’ve visited could do with a good clean and the staff make you feel about as welcome as rain at the Test Match. They don’t appear to care about creating a brilliant customer experience. As a rule, businesses that don’t care about customer experience will fail, whether they are pubs or candlestick makers.

I’m not saying it’s easy out there. Supermarkets selling cheap beer, wine and readymeals are making it extremely challenging. But that said pubs (and restaurants) need to fit in with the modern world, not howl at the moon and believe they have a divine right to exist. To my mind it’s all about being positive, going back to basics (clean toilets are a good start), getting creative and working hard at building your customer base. Much like Andrew with his pop-up cinema and charity meal.

Me at The Tudor
Andrew Trickett of The Tudor in Leicester

Matt Wright
The author:

Matt lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and dog. He is passionate about British pubs, slow food and home brewing. He founded Great Food Club (originally as Great Food Magazine) in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town of Melton Mowbray - Britain's 'Rural Capital of Food'.