A real way to attract punters back to pubs

Cheers!: No 7 co-owner Dave Hughes with David    Broadhead, manager of Wombwell's Acorn Brewery.
Cheers!: No 7 co-owner Dave Hughes with David Broadhead, manager of Wombwell's Acorn Brewery.
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Beer is cheaper as a result of the Budget, but it’s not cheers all round for the local landlord.

Research from CAMRA shows 42 per cent of people are using pubs less than they did a year ago.

Now pubs are being urged to see the tax cut as a new beginning and pull out all the stops to get the community through the doors.

April is Community Pubs month and South Yorkshire branches of the Campaign for Real Ale are encouraging pubs to join in.

Mike Benner, national Chief Executive, says: “People are using pubs less in these difficult times but there is plenty pubs can do to attract more people through their doors.”

Pub-goers rated quality food and drink top of the list when CAMRA asked what would encourage them to visit the pub more often, followed by live music, More family orientated pubs, traditional pub games like darts, pool, skittles and free wifi and computer use.

Over a third of pub-goers stressed they would visit more often if local pubs organised more events and informed them what was planned.

Three pubs that are doing it right are The Beehive on Union street, Harthill, Barnsley’s Old No7 and Doncaster’s Salutation on South Parade. They are doing so well they have made it into CAMRA’s Top 150 UK Local Real Ale Pubs list for good customer service, value for money, decor, customer mix, atmosphere and quality of beer.

They go forward to CAMRA’s Regional Pub of the Year competition in September. “Winning pubs are examples of well-run and valued community pubs we hope to see more of throughout the UK,” say CAMRA.

Good beer and plenty of it seems to be the recipe for success at the Old N0 7.

“We opened two years ago and get busier and busier,” says assistant manager Kerrie Filenczuk, of the pub set in a former ironmonger’s shop, an 18th century English Heritage Grade 2 listed building.

Owners are Dave and Judi Hughes and Michael and Angie Thorpe, of Wombwell brewery Acorn.

Winner of Barnsley CAMRA’s real ale pub of the year in 2012 and 2013 and runner up in the Yorkshire final last year, The Old No 7 showcases four of Acorn’s championship cask ales alongside four guest beers from regional craft brewers, which change when the barrel is empty.

Says Kerrie: “We get beer-tickers from miles away and plenty of women - it’s a fallacy that only men drink real ale.”

The pub stages a beer festival every few months, upping its pumps to 17. A weekly quiz and live music draw even more customers. “Our most popular band are locals The Sons Of Val Doonican. They do hit songs in Barnsley-speak. Everyone loves them.”

During Community Pubs Month councils are being called on to protect pubs and the Government is being urged to support community pubs, protect viable pubs from change of use and make the relationship between large pub companies and their licensees fairer.

Regulars can help to protect the future of the local. Andrew Cullen, secretary of CAMRA Sheffield & District explains: “We’re running a national campaign to encourage people who consider their local pub important to their community to get it listed as a protected community asset.”