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.