Friday, 8 October 2010

Don't teach my grandmother how to suck eggs ....

Jonathan Downey managing director of The Rushmore Group, a collection of urban bars in London and other major cities, was asked by ALMR chief executive Nick Bish to speak at its autumn debate last week and propose the motion ‘It’s last orders for the British Pub’.

Apparently he thinks that the only ground-breaking advance in the pub industry was the introduction of Sky in 1989, whilst changes to society and improvements in living conditions have elicited no response from the on-trade. Utter bunkum.

He said: “Whilst clearly no one really believes the pub is on its last legs, the industry is under attack from all sides and the message here is clear — as an industry, we first need to accept that there is a lot we should be doing for ourselves if we are to have any hope of making some of the essential changes needed to maintain a thriving business.”

If you want to read more of his self-satisfied rambllings see:

So tell us something new Mr Downey ... despite the best efforts of individual licensees who have and still provide(d) comfortable, safe, value for money pubs, many have continued to fall by the wayside, bludgeoned down by crippling rents and taxes, beset by cheap supermarket sales and bound up in a death shroud of red tape ... grandma used to say " there's no such thing as a bad  pub, only a bad publican" and that a "pub is just four walls, it's what you do with it that counts" ... she would, however, be quite literally spinning in her grave (if she hadn't been cremated) to see what is happening to her beloved trade (of over 60 years) ... perhaps you have found a lucrative niche of well-heeled customers for your outlets (whatever "urban bars") are... not all licensees share your good fortune.

It is facile and patronising in the extreme to suggest that the ills that have befallen this industry stem from an inability to change ... my grandmother regaled us of times long gone by when the rise of the Kinemas and the Wireless were innovations (in a time when there were very few restaurants and most pubs served little more than curled up sarnies and pickled eggs) ... the British publican is by and large an extremely adaptable and industrious entrepreneur ... but faced with overwhelming odds not technological advancement s/he is struggling to survive the perfect storm that pubco's, supermarkets and HMG have brewed up.

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