|The Sparrowhawk pub sign|
I've previously written about pubs we have lost locally this year, the Plough and the London, and I've also written about the new Marston's pub, the Guelder Rose, which opened recently. Another new real ale outlet is the Sparrowhawk, which has just opened in the former Tree Tops Hotel on Southport Old Road. The owners, Brunning and Price, state that it will be "a traditional pub restaurant serving high quality fresh food, along with a decent range of cask ales and wine". I've been told the range of cask ales is good, but with prices at around £3.60 a pint, it is clearly catering for foodies and special events, such as weddings and christenings, rather than the ordinary drinker.
Does this mean that locally we have a net loss of zero? In one way, yes, although there is certainly no exchange of like for like: both our new pubs are heavily food oriented, while those we lost were traditional pubs: this neatly illustrates the changing face of pub going. There must still money in pubs, seeing that the Guelder Rose was built entirely from scratch while the Sparrowhawk was a very expensive refurbishment, but neither will ever be a local. Considering the style of establishments that are opening and closing, I take the view that our net loss is indeed actually two.
Very few pubs close completely unmourned, so in a way the figures do reflect the level of losses of unique places where some people loved to spend their time, meet their friends and down a few beers that they presumably enjoyed, whether or not the beer was real. If you've lost your comfortable, old, local, traditional boozer, a new smart food oriented pub restaurant or bar can never be a replacement, so in answer to my question at the end of the first paragraph, I'd say no.