At a time when pubs are closing at very high levels, it is worth looking at the story of this year’s CAMRA Pub of the Year (first Welsh winner) which has bucked the trend and seeing the lessons that can be learned
from its success.
The Bridge End Inn at Ruabon near Wrexham is a small community pub in north Wales that had been closed for six months. It was taken over by a local family in 2009. The McGiverns restored the pub’s interior and introduced an extensive real ale and cider range and re-opened five weeks later. Now a thriving local, beer from more than 100 local and regional breweries is sold including a range from the family microbrewery (McGivern Ales).
Apparently the McGiverns were told that there was little demand for real ale in the area and that without alcopops, television and music they would be closed in a few months. In fact, no music is played and the only
time a TV is produced is when Wales are playing rugby (football is not shown…).
There might not seem many similarities between a small rural Welsh pub and a large pub in an affluent part of London but like the Bridge End Inn, my local (the White Horse in Fulham), does not play music, the television is only switched on for (England!) rugby games and, most important, a wide range of good beer, which regularly changes, is sold in a warm friendly atmosphere. Both pubs are popular with a variety of people, both locals and beer lovers who are prepared to make the journey to have a good pint and chat.
The success of both pubs is not surprising really. After all, basically we go to our local to have a good pint of beer in pleasant surroundings, relax and meet friends and strangers and talk with them. What makes a good pub is purpose and spirit as both these outwardly very different pubs show.
As Mr McGivern puts it:
“It’s all about interacting with people.”
Rob @ BG