What Kind Of Pub Would Suit You?

running a pub, starting a business
Written by: Pub Partners Team
Date added: Wed, 21/09/2016 - 10:00

A pub is a pub isn’t it?  Many people might think so.  The reality is very different. No two pubs are the same. There are considerable differences between pubs both in terms of who their core clientele is, and what they offer.

Perhaps the first question a potential pub landlord should ask themselves before taking on pub tenancy is, ‘what kind of pub would suit me?’ Would a traditional wet pub (local boozer) work best for you? Or would a sports pub that attracts football fans and people looking for entertainment fit in with your style of business? If you’re a chef, or even passionate gourmet, you’ll want somewhere you can showcase your food offering, not every pub has this potential.

For a publican, it is very important to choose the right type of pub to suit your personal interests and the way you want to run a business. Although there is always potential to innovate and change some features of an established pub, you do need to be able to tailor your plans to the type of pub it already is.

Furthermore, choosing a pub that suits you as a person increases the likelihood that you will have a successful business.  If you are happy with your pub style, then you will be more interested and motivated to spend time developing and building up the business. I often say that matching available pubs with landlords is all about finding a fit. There is no point trying to fit square pegs in round holes, it just doesn’t work in this business.

Types Of Pub Greene King Operate

Below are the main types of pub in our portfolio. These offer different rewards and challenges to the right landlord, and all have potential to be very successful businesses. Have a read through to help you identify what would be a good fit for you.

Wet Pubs

Wet pubs are what many would describe as the ‘local boozer’. These are pubs that focus on the drinks offering, generally without any food service or other revenue stream. This is what makes them successful too: a local pub in the heart of the community providing customers with somewhere to meet up with friends, chew the fat at the bar, perhaps play a game of darts and enjoy a pint.

Successful wet pubs focus on their core customers, who generally live in the local community. They ensure that they meet those customers’ needs, and build excellent customer relationships. That doesn’t mean there is no potential to make changes to the pub to increase revenue, but this always needs to be done in a sympathetic way to ensure local customers are on board.

Music Pubs

Live music is a great way of bringing customers in, especially on quieter evenings when trade is slow. It can give new life to a pub especially if it is something your customers are interested in and reflects their tastes. People who come to hear live music will stay longer, and will often buy meals as well. These are people who have made a conscious effort to come to the pub on that specific evening simply because they want to listen to the music. 

If you’re interested in taking on a pub with a reputation for live music you should first make sure that you like that style of music! Established music pubs will have loyal customers and it would be very hard to change this without alienating these followers.

Sports Pubs

Sports pubs are another popular category. These pubs tend to screen sports like football throughout the day and evening, and of course big sporting events. Larger pubs can have multiple screens, showing sport to suit a range of interests. There may also be pool, table football, ping pong and games machines so that people can play while they watch.

Much of the money in a sports pub is made by promoting it as a venue to watch big events such as rugby or football matches. Crowds are attracted to watch the event on the big screen, in the company of others who have an equal interest in the sport. This encourages social and community spirit.  Beer and food sales increase during these events, but have to be carefully targeted to suit the particular market. If you’re a big sports fan this could enable you to pursue this interest at the same time as running a profitable business.


If you have an appreciation of beer and customers who do too, a microbrewery attached to the pub is a great option. These pubs will generally brew small quantities of own beer, alongside selling popular ales from the pub company and guest beers.

This is a great way of distinguishing one pub from another, and real ale enthusiasts are particularly keen on this type of venue. However it is hard work and you will need to learn new skills or get expert help. You also need to be prepared to invest in the appropriate brewing equipment. 

Gastro Pubs

Then there are foodie pubs, ideal for someone looking to get their own kitchen / restaurant, or for a landlord with a passion for good food. Getting a reputation for excellent food can build a loyal clientele and also attract new customers from far and wide.

If you’re not a chef yourself you can always hire someone to do the cooking, but as the landlord you must have an excellent understanding of what customers want, and how to deliver it. Established gastro pubs are extremely popular with landlords looking for new opportunities, so be prepared to move fast if this is what you want.

Traditional Community Pubs

Whether a picturesque country pub in a chocolate box village or a bustling local in a town centre, the traditional pub is at heart of many communities. This type of pub suits landlords who want to get involved in the local community, and provide a focal point for local residents.

Many traditional pubs also provide essential local services, for example as the post office or local shop. Others are happy to allow community groups and clubs to use their premises for meetings and events, and these are all good ways of increasing footfall and loyal customers.

Of course there are many crossovers between styles of pub. A wet boozer may also have a reputation as a popular music venue, or a focus on selling cask ales. A gastro pub may also have a microbrewery, or have a traditional ‘public’ bar for locals just wanting a drink not food.

This means that even with an established pub business there may be opportunities to innovate, extend the pub offering and put your own mark on the business.

However as a first step you need to decide what you are comfortable with. Choosing the right type of pub to suit your personality and business interests is the best way of starting off a successful business.

If you already know what you’re looking for and would like to start the application process you can download our business plan template to below.