Victims of their own success

Sardines by Ofer Deshe

It has occurred to us that there are certain pubs and bars we don’t like because they’re often too busy. Unfair, really, but if they’re not nice to be in, they’re not nice to be in.

Is there anything management can do about this? One-in-one-out would be to officious a response.

Or do we need to make like the Spanish and accept that being squashed together and spending fifteen minutes getting served is what makes a good atmosphere?

How busy is too busy? We think a pub where you have to wait ten minutes for a table has just the right level of buzz.

Picture by Ofer Deshe from Flickr Creative Commons.

11 replies on “Victims of their own success”

Two of my favourite pubs are probably the two busiest pubs in Norwich.

I’d be quite happy if pubs and bars would just ban people from standing at the bar when they’re not waiting to be served. That would solve a lot of issues.

I can think of one of my favourite pubs that I have to avoid on a Friday night because it’s so packed.

I don’t see what management can, or should, do. I’d think most publicans want their pubs to be as full as possible as often as possible.

I hate crowded pubs. I like to have room to come in and sit down without risking my bag knocking someone’s pint over, and I like to be able to get up and got to the toilet without having to ask someone if they can move their chair so I can get past.

Peace and quiet. That’s what I go to pubs for. The opposite of what pub operators believe.

I drink on my own quite a lot. My most regular pub visit – & one of the most regular events of any kind in my diary – is a quick 30-40 minute stint on a Saturday evening; couple of pints, couple of reviews in the London Review of Books, total relaxation, bliss.

The idea that not getting a table for ten minutes is a good thing has me baffled. I have on occasion stood up for ten minutes on a Saturday, but it’s not ideal. Then there are those evenings when I’ve secured myself a table and been ‘joined’ five minutes later by a party of three, four or five (“is there anyone sitting there?”); this is fair enough if I’m hogging a big table, but often it’s a table that only comfortably seats two. Or those evenings when the pub’s visibly full – no free seating anywhere, even at the bar… and then another group comes in.

I think it’s that sense of having a bit of leeway that’s crucial; for me, a pub’s not comfortable if it’s so full that another couple of people would make it noticeably fuller by coming in – or for that matter if it’s so empty that a couple of people would make it noticeably emptier by leaving.

I like to be able to sit, and to hear myself and those I’m with, without having to raise voices or talk directly into each other’s ears. Anything which makes those hard to achieve is too busy, in which case the pub has to be pretty special to make it worth it. If there’s a good throughput of people, so I don’t feel like we might be waiting aeons for a table, I don’t mind standing for a little bit.

But then a pub with you as its only customer would probably still make decent money.

Sean – yes, true, and if they’re busy, they don’t need to worry that we’re not going because it’s too busy!

Nate – or get waiters like in Cologne. With those Koebes (sp?) it doesn’t matter how busy the bar is.

Barm/Phil – now, there are quiet pubs and there are bleak, miserable empty pubs. We like quiet ones, too, sometimes.

Thomas – that’s another great indicator of busyness. Not being able to hold a conversation comfortably is definitely a sign that a pub is inhospitable to human life.

Nate got straight in with the biggest gripe of packed pubs. IDIOTS!

Specifically those stood at the bar. I mean, just sit down! (and that doesn’t mean pull up a chair at the bar, thats an even more henious crime…)

I sit at the bar in Harrisons 1854 in Sheffield, where, gawd luvvum, there are almost no customers midweek. So that’s fine. If the pub is busy however, its a crime against thinking to stand in the way.

I have only once heard a member of barstaff tell sone bellend to get away from the bar, and I smirked like a simpleton in smug celebration.

Absolutely. If I’m forced to shout my order over the heads of other people who don’t even get out of the way to let me retrieve my beers, I’m going elsewhere.

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