Sunday 2 August 2015

The early bird doesn't catch the punter

I wrote on 4 July that the Falstaff in King Street was reopening after an extensive refurbishment. This pub was my local for a while, so I was interested to see what had been done. On Monday, a friend and I went in at 9.45pm to have a look. There were only two or three other customers in, and as we approached the bar, the barman said, "You're just in time."
"For what?" I asked.
"The landlady wants to close the pub at ten tonight."
I replied: "I'm not drinking somewhere with stupid opening hours", and walked out. We went across the road to the Cheshire Lines, which was buzzing with a couple of reasonable beers on.

I heard yesterday that the manager had been dismissed - after just two weeks - because the pub wasn't making enough money. If she's been closing it on a whim, I'm not surprised.

It was not the early closing that irritated me; after all some micropubs have early closing times, such as the Barrel House in Birkdale and the Liverpool Pigeon in Crosby. The difference is that these are their scheduled times. Closing early than the normal closing time is usually the sign of a pub that is on the way out, not one that has just reopened after a £325,000 revamp. Anyone arriving during normal pub hours to find it shut is unlikely to bother trying again: there is, after all, no shortage of other real ale pubs nearby.

Let's hope the replacement licensee is more on the ball.

I didn't get much of a chance to look at the refurbishment, but here is how the Southport Visiter reported the opening.


  1. If you've just spent £325k on a refurb, and your pub is devoid of customers, then you really have messed up big time.

    I have no problem with restricted opening hours so long as pubs make their hours clear on a notice by the door.

    There is one pub in central Stockport, which in many ways is praiseworthy, but which rightly gets marked down for a policy of "we may close early on quiet nights". Surely it would be better to declare the hours you are certain to be open, and then stay open later if there are the customers to justify it.

  2. Martin, Cambridge2 August 2015 at 23:08

    Nothing worse than uncertainty over hours. I am noticing a lot more pubs restricting lunchtime hours compared with GBG or website listings, less so closure. Pubs like Swan with 2 necks in Stockport presume work around shopping hours.

    Nev - does Cheshire Lines still do Tetley- was superb 10 years ago.

    1. Yes, they still have Tetley's Bitter on, along with a couple of guests, but I didn't try it on this visit.

  3. I see from a more recent blogpost that the Falstaff has had yet another expensive refurb.

    1. The refurb referred to in this post was awful; I can't imagine many people liking it (and it seems they didn't). Let's hope the latest one is better, or I doubt this pub will last much longer.

  4. I did a blogpost last year about how pub operators often seem to have no idea who they're trying to appeal to when refurbishing pubs.

    I may be wrong and they actually do think it through it detail, but if that's the case they seem to get it wrong depressingly often.


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