Wetherspoons: Saviour or Executioner?

With over 800 pubs in the UK it’s becoming harder and harder to avoid JD Wetherspoons. It is unlikely that we will including a pub review of a Wetherspoons any time soon, it would be like doing a restaurant review of McDonalds; they’re all more or less the same. What we are going to do though is take a short look at the positives and the negatives of this hugely successful chain.

Pubs are facing a hard time, the dire economic climate has taken its toll. The Lost Pubs Project estimates in the UK today pubs are closing at a rate of 50 each week. That is one pub lost every three hours and twenty two minutes. Wetherspoons is a refreshing break from this decline and has been growing at a rapid extent. In fact Wetherspoons has saved many pubs, by bringing them under their umbrella when they would have gone bankrupt anyway.

On the flip side of the coin, many argue Wetherspoons, cheap prices, low costs and high profit margins are precisely the cause of the decline in the family run pub. Small locals can no longer compete with this national behemoth of homogenous drinking venues offering low price microwave, average quality food. Another common critique is the lack of character of Wetherspoons. They’re mostly the same, offering the same menu’s, drink deals and layout. There is no unique atmosphere or anything refreshing. Wetherspoons merely exist to serve a function.

Some criticisms are too harsh though. Spoons does go out of its way to offer real ale brands a position in its pubs. The Wetherspoons Real Ale and Cider Festival is arguably the biggest in Britain and whilst they may not be helping other local pubs, they certainly are helping local brewers. Moreover, Wetherspoons is doing what it can to improve the image of the British pub. Sure many of us still associate Spoons with the alcoholic in the corner, but they are probably more family friendly than your local.

Love them or loath them, Wetherspoons, like McDonalds, is a safe bet. Wherever you are you know exactly what you are going to get. Also if the growth continues, wherever you are, you are probably not that far from a Spoons.


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