There’s a new phrase emerging from the blue sky thinkers in the pub industry known as ‘premiumisation.’ Whether it will become accepted into the Oxford English as bona fide English say, like bouncebackability was, is another matter but it is definitely the buzz word right now for the bean counters and strategic planners at Greene King.
I am more than happy to confess that I think any version of a pub is better than nothing at all and clearly, unless you operate a small pub or are based in a city centre, food is important.
However, the GK model, as seen in this link, https://www.greenekingpubs.co.uk/blog/premiumisation-and-pub-tenancies-0 means we can expect more upmarket versions of Farmhouse Inns, Hungry Horses and Fayre And Squares and probably less in the way of traditional boozers.
In GK’s defence, they have done a decent job with pubs such as The Drum And Monkey in Dorridge (Pub 13) under their Chef & Brewer guise and I’m not suggesting that every pub goer in Britain wants a spit and sawdust drinking experience.
I’m not picking on Greene King in particular but, premiumisation is the kind of corporate globalisation terminology that doesn’t sit comfortably with me.
USP (Unique selling point) is another phrase that is now commonplace and current jargon amongst the people at head offices means every pub needs a USP. The hidden caveat appears to be that if you don’t have a USP or embrace premiumisation then you won’t be top of the list for an expensive refurb!
All of this came to mind when I ventured into a free house non Greene King pub during the recent snowy spell with a couple of drinking buddies.
122 – The Staff Of Life DE73 7JH in the small village of Ticknall, Derbyshire is very much operating in the world of premiumisation but it needs its own niche to survive.
With a population of 642, it has three pubs and a cricket club all vying for trade so you need to be creative to survive.
According to this beermat in the pub,
you can walk between the three boozers for one and a half hours but that appears optimistic to me!
The Chequers Inn (pub 39) has got the ‘local’ wet-led market tied up so The Staff needs to offer something different and with a Grade II listed building and B&B accommodation it is safe to say it is.
‘The Staff’ is a decent boozer that always looks to me as though it is set up for diners. There is no problem at all with you just coming in and having a drink and they have a decent selection of beers but at about £4 a pint then the beer needs to be good!
As it happens, my Ashby Pride (Tollgate) was very decent but for £3 I could have walked 500 yards up the road and had a pint of Bass in the new Dart Parlour at The Chequers!
However, I couldn’t have food there and The Staff Of Life was set up for this with a decent crowd in celebrating Sandra’s birthday on a table near to us.
The Staff has most things right and it is operating a ‘premium’ product. You can get decent food, decent beer and the staff are friendly enough. I’m not sure whether it’s the acoustics or the way it’s set up, but it never strikes me as a place that’s buzzing.
The GK edicts ‘suggest’ “Furnishings and decoration need to reflect the quality of your offer, different seating areas created to suit different uses, and creative lighting that provides ambience as well as illumination.”
There are two different rooms with different style furniture and one has lower lighting but I guess the best adjective to describe this place would be chilled.
I’m of the belief you can never have too many pubs and variety is the spice of life. If I was taking out Mrs BB and the kids then this would arguably be our destination in Ticknall. With the added attraction of Calke Abbey less than half a mile away there is plenty of passing trade to hook in and if they can do that with their food, accommodation and drink, whilst continuing to bring in parties (literally) of locals then The Staff of Life should keep ticking over nicely.