|Half a cheap pub, half a JobCentre. And why not?|
My local Spoons, The Grey Friar, is pictured above. The place is my favourite pub anecdote. It always gets a laugh when I tell people that my local Spoons occupies a building that is also occupied by the local JobCentre Plus. Personally, I cannot believe it wasn't planned that way, though surely the stories of benefits being electronically sent to a bar tab system are untrue. It's also the only pub that has ever refused to serve me. Ironically, I was ordering a can of Monster at the time.
Preston will be getting another Wetherspoons in the near future, thankfully located at the other end of town. And, sad to say, this is probably one of the few instances that a pub from this august company would improve an area - Church Street being a dismal hole of takeaways and near-derelict vacant shops (it does contain one of Mudgie's beloved Sam Smith's, though).
A town's Wetherspoons, I think, it somewhere that has it's place. Yes, they tend to attract people who really shouldn't be drinking John Smith's at 8am, and they are usually cavernous and unconducive to prolonged visits. But if you happen to be in an unknown town for a short time, you are pretty much guaranteed at least a half decent pint and something reasonably edible. For the local pubgoer too, it's probably one of the few pubs you'll find an atypical-to-the-region beer. Where else in Preston, for example, would I ever find Darkstar Hophead or Titanic White Star? In fact, it could be said that, along with Progressive Beer Duty, Wetherspoons is the main reason behind Britain's ever-increasing microbrewery numbers. They have to be selling the stuff somewhere, and even if the shed/railway arch dwellers don't make a lot on a pint, it's getting their name out there.
Wetherspoons is neither good nor evil. It is just there. Cheap beer, free wifi, clean toilets and all the ping food you can eat for a tenner. Timbo Martin's business model will outlast all the country's leatherette-bench codger pubs and reclaimed-brick crafty bars. It would be a tragedy if all pubs were Spoons or faux/ersatz-Spoons, but the ones that are there perform their designated service role. Even if, as in my town, that particular role is keeping a certain type of person away from the town centre streets.