Articles

The Gentrification of pubs & community buy-outs

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2019 by kmflett

The Gentrification of pubs & community buy-outs

The beer writers Boak and Bailey have done some interesting research into the gentrification of pubs in Bristol. You can read the post and support their writing here:

https://boakandbailey.com/2019/11/the-swan-with-two-necks-and-the-gentrification-issue/

I don’t have a huge issue with the gentrification of pubs (but then I’m in a decently paid job) particularly if it means they stay open.

But as Boak and Bailey note the matter is complex.

What is usually meant by gentrification in this case is that the price of drinks increases and familiar lager and keg bitter brands are replaced by craft beers.

There is a sort of rationing by price and beer style that goes on that dictates not the mix of customers as such but certainly a class of customers.

This of course is where Wetherspoons business model works well. Its prices are low, it offers a range of familiar brands and some ‘craft’ beers and should you enter one you will find a diverse range of customers.

As Boak and Bailey note however pubs are businesses and businesses that don’t make a profit tend not to continue. If a street corner local is selling a limited range of mainstream brands to a limited number of customers its chances of survival are small.

Here more complexity can be added.

I live in working class Tottenham but the days of the street corner local in the area are long gone. Perhaps partly this was due to it being the original base for Wetherspoons but in the main its down to property developers.

Until quite recently the area, as a result, was down to a number of pubs arguably too small to cater for the potential audience.

Now some craft bars have opened. Two are in fact in former pub premises but the reality is that the pub had been shut for so long you’d need to be rather old like myself to recall it ever was one. So no gentrification really took place.

There is another way, followed successfully by a pub near Spurs, the Antwerp Arms, which is to keep developers at bay by raising funds to secure a community buy-out and control.

That it seems to me is a potential way forward for regulars who don’t want their pub closed. They can keep it as they like but they will, as Boak and Bailey righty note, have to make sure that it turns a profit. At least as long as we live in a market capitalist society anyway.

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