The media would have us believe that our nation’s pubs are a dying breed. However, statistic after statistic regarding the supposedly dire situation does not tell the whole story. For although there are undoubtedly issues in certain areas and with certain establishments, the Brits’ thirst for good quality public houses has been far from quenched.
If there is an issue surrounding pub closure, it is far more to do with the changing demands of the customer, a need for strategic recruitment and recognition that pub food can make or break a business. Although there is always a time and a place for the so-called ‘old man pub’, many clients both demand and expect far more from their local watering hole. In a competitive business where some are willing to travel for miles to sample local real ales, gourmet food or unique architectural features, landlords and owners would do well to consider whether their premises is providing what the public demand.
The gastro pub is alive and kicking
Newly released data confirms that with more than a billion pub meals served in a single year, food is a key element to avoiding ruin and increasing profits. But how can a pub successfully introduce food into their everyday operations?
Indeed, how can they know what the menu should offer? An essential starting point is establishing a style and target audience for the pub grub on offer. This is a difficult balancing act as no landlord wants to alienate existing custom, but nor should they shy away from attracting new clientele. Analysing success stories in the local area and utilising the knowledge of those who already frequent the bar can really help in offering the right menu for the right business.
Perfect personnel creates potential profit
In addition to deciding on a style and direction for a menu, a realistic financial plan must be put in place. Often, old-fashioned pub kitchens will be irrelevant to today’s requirements and if refurbishment is required, the cost must be factored in. The cost of any changes in staffing must also be addressed. As a rule of thumb, a pub’s wage allowance will be in the area of 20-25% of overall turnover excluding VAT. Employing a qualified chef and recruiting experienced waiting and catering staff should be a key priority when budgeting for introducing food. Scrimping here will only produce problems in the future.
There is no doubt that pub based profits are not dead in the water. For many, their local remains the focus and lifeblood of the community. Now is the ideal time to take a close look and ensure that the future of the Great British pub is made safe and secure for generations to come.