Pubpaper 824 – Children in Pubs and Hypocrisy.

Posted: 11th September 2015 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

This week I return to the subject of children in pubs, a topic I have not discussed for a while.   This was prompted by an experience last weekend at a newly opened bar.  But first some background, my general attitude is that a pub landlord has a perfect right to set his or her boundaries for children and customers should thoroughly respect this.  If children are allowed and they misbehave affecting other customers he has the perfect right to ask the parents to remove the children.

The pubs I frequent have a variety of rules regarding children.  There are pubs such as the Big Six which are child free inside with the exception of the beer garden.  Then you have the many local pubs who allow well behaved children into the pub until 6, 7 or 8pm (the exception usually being “occasions” such as family themed events, bonfire night etc, and of course “private parties”).  My local, the Cock and Bottle, Southowram operates such a policy.  Of course even if children are allowed, there can be extra rules such as children not being allowed in certain areas of the bar, the Cross Keys, Siddal being one such place.

Looking at more family oriented venues, The Sportsman, Ploughcroft operates a family friendly policy as it is a mixed food and drink pub, but has separate facilities to entertain them in the form of Charlie Fastrack Play Gym, generally leaving the Sportsman pub for adults and well behaved children who have burnt off the excess energy across the road.   Then you get the family oriented chains such as Two for One, Hungry Horse etc which shamelessly target parents with indoor and/or outdoor play facilities and TV’s in the booths to keep smaller people entertained.   

However I had an experience this week where I went to a bar with my family and nothing was said at the time of entry and we were allowed to order drinks and sit down to enjoy them.  I’ll mention now that with my party of 4, there was nearly as many staff as customers when we entered.   The bar in question is the newly opened Vine in West Vale in the Andy Thornton mill complex.  We were present in the bar from 2.30pm until 3.30pm on a Saturday afternoon, so not late.  Everything was fine until the latter part of our visit, we’d had a couple of drinks each in that time.  

Towards the end of our visit the bar manager approached us to say “Children are not technically allowed in the bar as we are not serving food yet”.   It could be a co-incidence that the bar was starting to get busy with 6 or 7 tables now filled with adult parties.  The attitude came across as that of “Thank you for paying my staff wages for the last hour while nobody was in the bar, but I’ve now got customers paying £20 a bottle of wine and £7 a cocktail, can you kindly go away”.   The bar itself is well designed and looks the part, but the attitude shown by the management has put myself and my wife off ever visiting again even as a couple and not wanting to recommend the bar.

The bar also it let down from what it promised when it did it’s pre-launch, they were promising a range of craft beer, but a Brooklyn Brewery pump and 3 bottled / canned “craft beers” only technically fills that brief, it’s what you get from a lot of local pubs now, who don’t need to mention this explicitly when in pre-launch or ongoing marketing.  From a cider point of view, they only had Rekorderlig (but let’s be honest, it’s an alcopop) and Magners, with only 1 bottle left of that, fresh deliveries arriving as we left.  Would a handful of bottles of Aspalls, Westons or other ciders have done any harm.  

The lack of a cask beer was disappointing as well, although lack of cellar space obviously hampers this.  The other keg lines included San Miguel and Stud Fold Gold, both decent enough beers, but not exactly inspired.   They say they are a cocktail bar and that may be their focus (plus wine), but a good beer range will attract couples where the male is a beer drinker and partner prefers wine / spirits (or visa versa).  There is nothing here from a beer point of view that will make you choose this bar over one 5 minutes up the road.  After a lot of promise up front a disappointing implementation in reality.  Style over Substance definitely the issue here.

  1. Ian says:

    Thanks for the “heads up”. With or without my grandchildren I’ll be giving this pub a miss!