Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grumpy old man made grumpier by a pub

I went to a pub near my home with Mrs Stan a few weeks ago and even now when I close my eyes, the screaming starts in my head


The pub had been a low dive when we moved into the area and they hadn't been able to make a living from serving cheap lager to knife-wielding maniacs and old men with dribble hanging out their mouths. Now it was under new management, had been painted and a chef was rumoured to be knocking out gastropub grub. This was appealing to us as the existing pubs near us either cater exclusively for adolescents or for old men with dribble hanging out their mouths.
What we only realised when we stepped through the door was that this one had decided to become a Sports Pub.

In a suburb this is just plain silly. Sports Pubs do well in the city with the after-work mob. In the suburbs, Sportsfans have made the long, arduous trip home and the last thing they want to do is to go back out again. Especially since they've got Sky and Setanta at home, which is likely if they're any kind of Sportsfan.

As if to confirm this, the number of massive plasma screens showing different obscure football games outnumbered the clientelle. One quarter of the room was set up with tables for food, and a single hassled party of diners were gamely trying to ignore the noise.

It took the four staff twenty minutes to serve us beer, which is impressive given that, with the exception of one noisy Drunk talking belligerently at one mute Drunk at the bar, we were their only customers.

We eventually got the drinks over to the only two comfy seats and the table was sticky. Despite the pub being empty and the staff bored, no-one had been pestered to clean the table. We later heard the owner at the bar trying to save money by sending one of the barmaids home. The chef lurked looking like a man in secondary nicotine withdrawal : his bargain roast meat specials weren't exactly in demand.

I felt like striding up to the bar and sorting them all out :-

  • "Oi ! Owner ! You'd be better off chatting to the customers rather than trying to save a tenner's worth of bar staff expense"
  • "Oi ! Barmaid ! If you're doing nothing better you might as well be clearing tables. Or learning how to change a barrel in less than 20 minutes."
  • "Oi ! Chef ! If you're not busy, knock us up a batch of chips - you might just persuade me not to leave the second I've chugged this pint"
  • "And would someone for the love of God, please switch off the fecking TVs if no-one's watching !!"

Clueless. I know nothing about running a pub but I even I know when one is in a death-spiral of despair when I see one. And if I can see it, why can't the owners see it ?

So we're back to drinking Breezers with the adolescents or listening to the old men cough.

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