Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The poor old Irish publican

Gombeen Man cannot bear the sight of crocodile tears trickling down our poor publicans’ chubby cheeks. The facial ones, you’ll understand.

All you can hear from them, in their supposedly recession-proof industry, is how they are being squeezed out of business by the smoking ban, off-licences, stronger enforcement of drink-driving laws, and goodness knows what else. The one thing that won’t cross their minds is the slightest suspicion that their prices are too high.

In fact, some have even raised their prices in the past, in a novel approach to attracting more customers. Now where else on Earth would you get that kind of business acumen?

But then, buying a pub has been the height of entrepreneurial endeavour in Ireland for generations. These are the movers and shakers, the visionaries and the wealth creators of Irish society (wealth for themselves, that is). And then there are the builders, of course, flying their exposed arsecracks about the Irish skies in their helicopters. Not exactly Bill Gates, is it?

I met someone from my, erm, close circle of friends the other day at lunchtime. In a defiant display of the radical anti-patriotism I’m famous for, I shunned the local brew, Guinness, for a Coors Light. Strange choice, you might say. Especially considering Stella Artois was on offer, and is a good bit stronger. But let’s just say it’s something to do with a recent health kick. Well, it’s all relative isn’t it?

Anyway. My mate was driving, so he was on something even more namby-pamby than me, namely a rock shandy. So, off went the barman for said drinks and duly placed them in front of us, along with a request for payment of EUR 10.20. Ten euro and twenty cent, I kid you not! For the briefest of nanoseconds, I was tempted to get a couple of double vodkas in, to get over the shock. Then I wondered what they might cost.

That was bad enough, but it actually gets worse. When the time came for my friend to return the compliment, and get a round in, we had to wait about 15 minutes for the pints to arrive.

From what I could make out, although there was no shortage of people behind the bar, most of them seemed to be getting sandwiches for portly punters, and pulling pints was not part of their skill-set at all. We could see only one person who could carry out the aforementioned task, and he was divided between the bar and the lounge sections.

Well really, on this evidence, is it any wonder that people are giving the pubs a miss? So, Gombeen Man – in his temporary role as pub spy – has a radical suggestion for our licensed vintners to stoke up business: lower your prices and actually serve some pints when customers request them. It might sound a bit like one of those “thinking-out-of-the-box” things, but trust me – it will work.

By the way, the pub was Kennedys Bar on Westland Row. I think we’ll try somewhere else the next time.


Back to Gombeen Nation main page

No comments: