Picking the Perfect Pub for You
If you’re dreaming of running your own pub, you’ve probably already got an idea of the perfect pub for you. It might be one that you spent your formative years in as a young adult—either as a guest or behind the bar. Or maybe it’s based more on an idea of what you can bring to running a pub—the type of atmosphere and guest experience someone like you can create. Either way, you’ll need to know what it really involves, so here are some of the essential factors to consider.
Will it be wet or dry led?
A wet-led pub is one that is mainly about the drinks offering. A dry-led pub is one that is mainly about the food offering. Most people who take up a Marston’s Pillar Partnership, for instance, are interested in dry-led pubs, because they allow them to create their own menus and build the reputation of their pubs based on offering an outstanding local dining experience.
People who are interested in wet-led pubs tend to be the types of people who are more focused on high-volume sales and great bar service. Sports pubs and city centre pubs are good examples of typical wet-led pubs.
Whichever type of pub you choose, you can make a great living, but make sure you pick the kind that suits your ambition and management style. It’s all about making sure your self-employed publican dream is a realistic one.
What style of pub will it be?
Running your own pub can really change your life. Have you thought about what style of pub will allow you to best express your personality and make the most of your skill set and life goals, though?
Perhaps you like the idea of running a gastro pub, or city centre pub that’s central to local nightlife. Or have you always dreamt of running a guest house where providing the perfect overnight stay is as core to the guest experience and how you make your living as the bar or restaurant?
At Marston’s, for example, our pub estate gives self-employed publicans the choice of Community Locals, Destination Dining pubs, High Street & Town Centre pubs and Pubs with Rooms. Any of them can be taken on with a Pillar Partnership so the publican has lots of freedom to do things their own way.
Have you considered the local crowd?
If you have your heart set on a particular pub in a particular area, it’s important to do a bit of research into what kind of environment is popular with the locals. Visit a few other pubs close by and get a sense of what’s bringing people through the doors of certain pubs and keeping them out of others.
The kind of place you’re looking to run should, of course, fall on the side of what’s popular with the locals. If it’s not, then you might want to consider looking at a different pub in a different location—after all, if you entered into an agreement like a Marston’s Pillar Partnership, you’d be looking at a five-year commitment, so it’s all about giving yourself the very best start.
Talk to local people, find out what they like and what kind of pub they wish they had locally before you start. Once you open a pub of your own, maintain that level of proactive research too—keep asking people, in other words. Building a successful pub is all about continually developing your offering and honing it to give guests the experience that will keep them coming back.
Which part of Britain do you want to be in?
Because running your own pub will probably mean upping sticks and moving into the accommodation within the pub itself, you might want to consider a new geographical region altogether. If you currently live in a big city, but dream of a cosy community pub, for instance, maybe it’s time for a whole lifestyle change.
Of course, there’s an argument that opening a pub in your local area gives you a readymade guest base in your friends, family and wider social circle. However, pub companies like Marston’s have estates that run the length and breadth of Britain. So, consider carefully the type of pub you’d like to run and whether that’s something you’ll be able to do in your current location and—if not—maybe it’s time to start consulting the map.
Looking for something else to read? See our post on Changing career to run a pub.