Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A difficult job

Every Friday, over the course of the past couple of months I’ve made a point of calling in at the Greyhound at Charcott for a lunchtime pint. Friday is the only weekday which the pub opens at lunchtime, so seeing as my regular lunchtime walks often take me right past its door, it seems rude not to pop in for a quick pint and a chat with whoever happens to be in.

I also feel that I am doing my bit, albeit in a small way, to help keep this rural pub open. For the background to the Greyhound’s current situation, please refer to my previous post on the subject. However, even with my presence I have yet to see the number of customers reach double figures.

The landlord tells me that trade is busier in the evenings; something I will find out for myself in a fortnight’s time, when my local CAMRA branch will be holding a social at the pub. Unfortunately, relying solely on wet sales (the Greyhound serves no food, but customers are welcome to bring their own sandwiches or rolls and eat them in the bar), does not appear to be a sound business model; certainly in the long term.

Larkin’s only have the pub on a short term lease, as owners’ Enterprise Inns, have the pub up for sale. The talk in the bar  has been that the only interest in the property has been from those wishing to convert the pub into a private dwelling, and the only reason this desire has not yet come to pass is the pub has no garden. If one wished to be pedantic, it does have a grassed area at the side, which is separated from the road by a hedge, but this “garden area” belongs to the house behind. It is currently leased to the pub.

So at the moment, the Greyhound is in a sort of limbo. It’s great that Larkin’s have taken on the lease so that the pub can remain open, but with its long term future uncertain, it’s understandable they don’t wish to invest in a full-blown catering operation.

For my part, I will continue to call in when I can, as there’s normally some friendly and interesting conversation at the bar. Last week whilst I was there, Larkin’s made a delivery and their drayman, whom I have known for years, popped in for a pint and a chat. He brought his canine companion in with him, and the dog amused us by begging for tit-bits (the pub sells crisps) and then got a little vociferous when no rewards came his way.

I enjoyed my ham roll along with an excellent pint of Larkin’s Porter. Walking back to work along the lanes, with the sun low in the sky, and full on in my face, I started to think that perhaps life isn’t quite so bad after all.


RedNev said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the uncertainty over the pub's future is having an adverse effect on the trade.

Paul Bailey said...

It’s more likely the lack of food, Nev which is having an adverse effect on trade at the Greyhound . There are very few chimney pots in Charcott, which means that, in the main, people have to drive there. People might well be prepared to travel by car, if they are going out for a meal, but no-one in the right mind would consider doing so for an evening’s drinking.

Although the previous tenant was somewhat lacking in people skills, and probably not the best person to have behind the bar, he was an excellent chef. The pub always appeared busy, when I used to walk past at lunchtimes, so for a rural pub like this, in an isolated situation, food is really essential. The concern is that Enterprise just want to sell the place off and are not bothered whether it remains a pub, or becomes a private dwelling.