Wednesday, 21 August 2013

This is, you will be devastated /delighted (delete where applicable) to learn .. Inapub April 2013

This is, you will be devastated /delighted (delete where applicable) to learn, my final Pub Food with Porter column for Inapub. 

I’ll still be working on features for the magazine, but the powers-that-be have decided that you, the reader, would benefit from being exposed to the opinions of a more diverse range of industry voices, as well as appreciating insights from professionals working within the pub food sector.

The fact that said industry voices will knock out 400 semi-literate words for nothing is neither here nor there. All I’ll say is: “Deadlines, Matt. What does a chef know about bloody publishing schedules?”

Anyway, I’d like to leave you with a thought on generalists vs specialists. Evolution tells us that over time, generalists will win out. Pigeons, for example, thrive more or less everywhere, while penguins are never more than a warm snap away from extinction.

My old pal Jim Winship, director of trade body the Café Society, insisted recently that “the pub is seen as more traditional, which is less attractive to the young, while the café has changed completely,” and added “the café could be the saviour of the high street, making it a social hub rather than just a place to shop.”

I’m not sure that Jim is going in the same venues that I am, but high street pubs have reinvented themselves. Crucially, they are generalists of the nation’s town centres, doing as good a job as not only the coffee shop, but also the sandwich bar, pizzeria, curry house and chippie.

While the past few years have clearly seen pubs close and cafés open, figures from CGA and the ALMR show that the number of licenses in town centres is increasing, The talk is all of ‘different day parts’ and ‘chameleon concepts’, with the focus changing by the hour. Traditional boozers are few and far between, while bars with a diverse range of food and drink thrive. It’s the cafés that are the penguins of the high street, and they need to keep a close eye on the weather.    

I’d like to say how much I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to have a direct relationship with the Inapub community over the past 18 months, and as the tears flow/champagne corks pop (delete where applicable) above all I have to stress that this should not, under any circumstances, be construed as a reason to stop offering me free meals in pubs or sending me samples of stuff you’d like to see on pub menus.

Cheers. Next month… well, your guess is as good as mine.
This Pub Food With Porter column appears in the April 2013 issue of Inapub.

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