altWell sorry to disappoint anyone who was looking for a witty punchline or a wise riddle (you’re definitely on the wrong site for that) but for me a pub ceases to be a pub when the nature of its business fundamentally changes.
For example, a pub that extends it hours, brings in a DJ and starts charging for entry after a certain time could easily earn the description of ‘bar’ or ‘club’.
Likewise, if you start making more from letting rooms than drink you could transform your business into an inn or hotel.
However the biggest argument over business descriptions involving pubs is when they veer into restaurant territory.
It has been a constant source of debate between colleagues of mine over the years.
Many look at the wet/dry split of a business. With some arguing that when you start making more than say 70% from food you no longer have the right to call yourself a pub. Though you might still get away with ‘gastro pub’, whatever that really means.
Anyway, I don’t subscribe to that view. My take on it is that they can sell as much food as they like but if can still sit at the bar or at a table having a drink with friends and not be expected to order a meal than it can pass as a pub.
For me it also comes down to how you feel about the place you are going to. When discussing what constitutes a sport a friend of mine once said that it is a sport if you have to change your footwear to play it.
Thus football, tennis, golf, even ten pin bowling, all qualify while darts, pool and snooker would end up being in the realms of hobby or pastimes.
Similarly for me I think a pub stops being a pub if I feel like I have to put on something smart to go there.
Maybe that sounds slightly uncouth but for me a pub is a place to kick-back and enjoy good drink, food and the company of friends in a relaxed environment. That means you don’t have to feel like you are making an effort in terms of dressing up.
I had a great experience of that over the Bank Holiday in a pub that had a separate dining area, waiting staff, table service for drink etc. But it was undoubtedly a pub due to a number of factors such as a slightly cantankerous landlord, old men sitting at the bar talking too loudly and the general atmosphere of the place.
Pubs being pubs, bars or restaurants etc is a debate that can go on for hours and, as I said, everyone has their own definitions. But does it really matter?
Well I think it does. Everyone around the world has restaurants and bars and hotels but nobody quite does pubs like we do. They are always one of the top five things that tourists seek out – they need a pint to soften the blow of not meeting the queen (the number one attraction).
So be proud to be a pub I say, whether you are a wet led boozer that only sells salted peanuts or a gastro pub that specialises in butternut squash risotto with shaved pecorino cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Either way I salute you, just don’t expect me to get dressed up to do so.