Willington Welcomes The Future…

Cherry Tree 22.09.17 (15)

It seemed highly appropriate as I stepped over the threshold of a Farmhouse Inns chain pub that the Stealers Wheel classic “Stuck in the Middle with you,” should start playing as the background music.

Whilst I may not have been facing Michael Madsen/Mr Blonde a la Reservoir Dogs, there is no doubt what awaited me was a fate almost as terrifying!

“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,”

A rare half day off from work saw Mrs BB make an escape for the promised land of Brum and meant I was left with the kids and I knew what was coming…

Cherry Tree 22.09.17 (11)

Willington has some good pubs (see pubs 14&15) but arguably the busiest of all the Willington boozers is one situated two miles outside the village centre slap bang on the A38/A50 crossroads.

“I got the feeling that something ain’t right,”

Back in 2008 a brand spanking new service station with Shell Garage, KFC and an Ibis Hotel mushroomed on the skyline and with it came a cheap and cheerful carvery experience known as 53 – Cherry Tree Farm DE65 6DX.

I have to confess my two kids (under ten) love this place but it is arguably the most stressful pub in the East Midlands!

“Trying to make some sense of it all,”

It does what it says on the tin and I got two kids carveries for under a tenner and a pint of East Coast IPA (Greene King) for only £2.95.

Cherry Tree 22.09.17 (8)

They were the positives.  It was full of young children, really young children and even younger children with groups of mums and families, but I didn’t see anyone just drinking and relaxing.  It is a behemoth of a pub and screechy loud as opposed to background noise.  But it’s on the Cask Marque Ale Trail…

…and, at 2.00pm on a Friday afternoon it was heaving. But, to all intents and purposes it is a restaurant.   So, the question that needs to be asked is…are Farmhouse Inns and their ilk the future of pubs?

“But I can see it makes no sense at all,”

In 30 years’ time, aside from big city centre pubs will we all be eating/drinking in these homogenised places as they are the only option left?  Will this place be seen as edgy compared to a Brewer’s Fayre?

Cherry Tree 22.09.17 (5)

“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,”

Mrs BB, on a recent trip to Portsmouth said she had been in a pub exactly, and she meant exactly the same as the Cherry Tree Farm in every way possible apart from the name.

“Here I am stuck in the middle with you,”

If I was building a service station next to the A50 then a ‘pub’ isn’t top of my agenda but that is probably why I am not Head of Marketing at Greene King.

“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,”

The keg beer was cold, good value and decent whilst the kids enjoyed their carvery so I won’t complain; adding in the fact the bar staff were helpful as I queued for a length of time for my food/drink.  Did I enjoy it?  Not really. Was I more stressed after leaving? Yes.  Do I want to go back? No. Did it have a beermat for my pint?  No.

Cherry Tree 22.09.17 (19)

“Cause I don’t think that I can take anymore.”

Will I go back?  Probably as a necessity to compromise and keep young kids quiet, but I’m looking forward to my kids being a bit older!

“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
“Here I am, stuck in the middle with you (repeat to fade),”

Is an area better off having a pub like the Cherry Tree Farm or no pub at all?  That’s the dilemma as it must be profitable for GK to run this place and why would you keep a community driven wet-led pub on when the tills keep ringing?

Cherry Tree 22.09.17 (22)

I guess it must be an age thing/pub blogger thing or does everyone think like this?

So many questions…and I don’t know the answers!

Cherry Tree 22.09.17 (2)

14 thoughts on “Willington Welcomes The Future…

  1. If pub operators are building new pubs in these locations, and not building new ones in town centres, then the answer to your question is yes.

    The big one for me is, ‘Is this what people want?’ OR ‘Are we being forced down this route by the pub operators?’

    I suspect the former, if only because property values and development costs are far cheaper for a green field new build than they are in town & city centres. Hence the majority of new openings in urban centres are easy conversions from ‘other use’ and run down boozers are worth more pulled down and developed into something that commands a higher premium – residential or retail/mixed use.

    This type of pub only perpetuates the decline of a proper boozer because a) you can’t walk to them and b) you wouldn’t want to walk to them for a quiet drink, even if you could.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some really good points there Richard. As you rightly point out, no new builds are just ‘pubs’ but the amount of people who go to places like The Cherry Tree means there is a demand for them….I’m not a fan of drinking at home but I think even that’s more enjoyable than having a pint in a place like that…


  2. “I have to confess my two kids (under ten) love this place but it is arguably the most stressful pub in the East Midlands!”

    I have to agree with Richard; that’s not a pub (certainly not a boozer!) but more of a restaurant than anything else.

    I was going to ask if that 4th photo was ice cream or some sort of pastry but then I saw the sign with “Ice Cream Parlour” further on.

    As for whether or not this is the future, no idea. But to me this is somewhat similar to people saying that every big city is the same the world over with respect to staying at a Hyatt Regency or Hilton or some such and having a drink in their “bar”. This chain pub/restaurant thing is perhaps the suburban version of that. Like you said, the kids enjoyed so maybe that’s their angle. Cheaper to go here with the kids for a pint than get a sitter.

    Not sure how it’s laid out inside but they might consider restaurant on one side and lounge on the other (like public bar and salon?). We have some places over here that do that (national as well as local). The restaurant side is for all ages while the lounge is strictly for those old enough to drink.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great idea Russ and to be fair, some of the chain pubs do that to a point but this one definitely doesn’t…globalisation and suburbisation (not sure that’s a proper word) are generally not good as it means it stifles ideas and ‘targets’ become involved…that’s a whole bigger issue I guess and I am beginning to sound like a grumpy old man!!!


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