Sometimes, there is just no logic to pub trends and boozers that are in vogue at any given time.
For example, if I was going to stick a chain pub between Showcase Cinemas, Gala Bingo and Armadillo storage or a good local boozer on the corner in the centre of a busy suburb in Derby it should be obvious which attracts the most punters right?
However, throw into the mix a Premier Inn and all day food then the odds change dramatically as I found out on a Thursday afternoon.
158 – The Oast House DE23 8AG is in an area of Derby known as Pear Tree, next to Sinfin, which isn’t overstocked with boozers and this recently built hostelry is in the middle of an entertainment complex known as Foresters Park.
With Pizza parlours, laser tag and ten pin bowling it is a bog standard complex near lots of houses but unlikely to be anyone’s local boozer.
Apparently it is housed in an authentic Oast House…
…and when I visited it was most definitely an eating place as part of the Table Table chain. You can just have a drink but every table was set up for food although there was a group of three workers with Hi-viz jackets on having a pint so maybe it is used by locals more than I thought.
Nonetheless, the rest of the punters were firmly in the food camp and there were three generations of one family enjoying food along with a couple of old blokes and an old couple.
A decent pint of Pedigree (Marston’s) (its Derby of course!) at £3.35 was fine but I couldn’t help feeling the whole pub was a bit soulless. The barman was friendly enough and it was clean and bright but it felt exactly like it should as a hotel restaurant.
Contrast that with 159 – The Vine – DE3 0DA when I popped in on a different Thursday afternoon recently. Mickelover is a relatively affluent area of Derby and its centre has pubs, supermarkets, shops and lots of houses in close proximity to boot.
The Vine looks like a cracking boozer from the outside and is an absolute warren of rooms when you go inside as there were four different drinking areas (I think). Granted one was a juke box, pool table, dart board area but it is clearly a pub with a lot of TLC and fine links with the community.
A look at the ‘community board’ lets you know they have a darts team, free pool nights, Karaoke nights, quiz nights and live entertainment along with Sky Sports, BT Sport and Racing UK!
Throw into the mix a good sized beer garden, bench seating and some good beer then it should, theoretically, be packed to the rafters all day every day.
Except modern day pub life doesn’t work like that and whilst it was a Thursday afternoon, there were only three other punters in there apart from me meaning it was quieter than the Oast House.
(a picture of a pint with 25% of the clientele in the background…)
I am sure I could go into the Vine of an evening when there is a football fixture on and it will be a totally different kettle of fish but if people want pubs to open all day then they need to be used otherwise it will be 4pm opening all round and you couldn’t blame them.
A friendly gaffer at The Vine and a top notch pint of Pride of Pendle (Moorhouse’s) along with a bit of Pet Shop Boys and Lisa Stansfield for company in the background meant it was a perfectly pleasant 45 minutes but it could do with a few more punters in the afternoon.
In my world, it’s a no-brainer which pub I would visit ten times out of ten but there are many variants within the pub trade that mean you are successful. Location, know your market and demographics are just three of them and, in this case, the numbers at these boozers just don’t add up…