Forget coffee, cup cakes and wifi, a “proper pub” is still all about the food, beer and friendly landlords, according to a survey undertaken by the country’s biggest pub company and brewer.
As some pubs increasingly diversify to attract new trade, the findings will provide succour to landlords whose time-honoured view of the British pub is of an authentic watering hole that prides itself on service and high-quality tipples and meals.
Greene King commissioned the YouGov poll to find out what were the essential ingredients for the “proper pub” of the 21st century.
And, while two thirds (66%) of people said a good choice of food and drinks was top of the pub-goers wish list, just one per cent said wifi was important to them. Of food and drinks most expected to be found in a “proper pub” cakes and Danish pastries attracted less than 1% of votes, and coffee and a range of tea gained just seven per cent of the votes.
A friendly landlord was thought essential by 57 per cent of people, and the idea of the pub as centre of the community is still important, put in the top three must-have ingredients by almost a third of those surveyed (30%).
Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King, which runs around 2,400 pubs in the UK, said the results showed that while publicans had to look to new ways of increasing revenue in difficult economic times, the fundamentals of the “proper pub” still hold true.
“We know from our own experience that people are drinking more tea and coffee, and eating more food, in pubs these days, and these are very important for the future of the pub trade,” he added.
“But it’s significant that top of most people’s list is the authentic atmosphere and feel of a British pub that comes from the landlord, the sense of community and the quality of the food and drink on offer.
“The British pub meets timeless human needs that are simply not fulfilled by other meeting places or groups, like social media networks. That’s why it survives and will continue to do so despite all the other opportunities we have for “joining” and for networking.
“It remains an essential community integrator, where people of different ages and backgrounds mix in a relaxed atmosphere.”
A beer garden (27 per cent) and log fire (22 per cent) fared much better in the survey than access for dogs (six per cent) and comfy sofas (15 per cent), while pub games were more popular among 18 to 24 year olds (31 per cent), and 29 per cent of all questioned thought “proper pubs” should be family friendly.
Mr Anand said that the company wasn’t looking for a one-size-fits-all approach to pubs, and the survey shows that there is a need for different pubs for different types of pub-goer.
“It’s quite clear that some people like somewhere they can take their family for Sunday lunch, while to others a “proper pub” is all about somewhere to socialise in the evening with their mates. Other still want the relaxing surroundings of a log fire, comfy sofas and a glass of wine,” he added.
“This research and the campaign which follows will enable us to drill down to see what’s really important to people in different age groups and different areas.”
A website – www.properpubs.co.uk – has been launched to give people the chance to cast their vote on what they think should be in a “proper pub, with the chance to win a personalised pub sign and 100 free meals on offer to those taking part.
Other key findings included:
• More people in the North East than anywhere else like to relax on a comfy pub sofa (25%)
• Those in the North West have a passion for authentic pub games like pool and darts (32%)
• People in the East Midlands are the most likely to want a friendly landlord (63%)
• Pub-goers in the South East believe a “proper pub” should be at the heart of its community (35%)
• Those in the South West want to sit by a log fire (30%), often with man’s best friend at their side (10%)
• While the Welsh believe a “proper pub” should reflect family friendly values (39%)
In the survey, 2,118 people were asked to select the top three characteristics that make up a “proper pub”, from the following list:
• Log fire
• Friendly landlord
• Centre of the community
• Family friendly
• Somewhere I can take my dog
• Comfy sofas
• Wifi for laptops
• Beer garden
• Good choice of food and drinks
• Pub games
They were also asked what type of food and drink they would expect to find in a “proper pub”.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2118 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 6th October 2010. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
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