Running a pub is a huge task within itself, but not taking the opportunity to cash in on the changing seasons can make for a much harder job. Just like when you refine your offering for big calendar events like Christmas time or Easter weekend, you should always be thinking about what your customers want to see at different points in the year.
In the winter, for example, we tend to hibernate. Red wine, cosy furnishings and log fires draw customers in out of the cold weather. But in the summer, when it’s (sometimes!) warm and bright outside, we’re more likely to be drawn towards bright and breezy spaces for a chilled white wine spritzer or cold beer.
This doesn’t mean that you have to completely renovate your bar for every changing season. Whilst there are things that you can do to summer-up your décor (such as switching posters around or moving the main focal point of the room to a space that is more light and airy), there are a number of much less invasive things you can do to make sure your pub is summer-ready.
So how can you give your pub a sunny makeover to make sure you’re catering for what your patrons want this summertime?
Get in some decent beer
A well-stocked beer fridge makes all the difference to the success of a pub – and seasonality is key to this. Not only do you need to make sure that you know how to serve the beer you stock (whether that be an ice cold lager or real ale served just at the right temperature and in the right glass), but it also means you need to think about which beers you stock.
Whilst a good mix of lagers on draught will always go down well, you should think about what cask ales you buy in. Summer ales tend to be more light bodied and relatively low in alcohol compared with their winter counterparts. Unlike the hoppy IPAs that drinkers favour when the weather’s cold, in the summer, we go for more refreshing, crisp tastes.
You might also want to keep an eye out for any special seasonal blends, as some select breweries have started to experiment with new methods and flavours. For instance, gin barrel aging can give pale ales a distinctly refreshing flavour that is perfect for the summer months.
Tidy up your beer garden
As soon as the evenings start to get lighter and the weekends longer, the beer garden calls. Although the typically rainy British weather means that your beer garden doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the inside of your pub year-round, it’s difficult to overstate the lure of outdoor space to drinkers on a warm summers day. After all, who wants to sit inside a pub all day when they could be outside in the sun with a refreshing beverage.
As soon as the weather dries up enough to go outside (we’re talking mid-March time), get green-fingered and sort out the weeding, cut back any overgrown foliage, and cut the grass. You might want to spruce the place up with a couple of hanging baskets and a coat of wood-stain on the outdoor furniture too. Remember to check the benches for splits in the wood or loose nails and replace any dangerous equipment.
Finally, despite our usual optimism, the bulk of a British summertime is anything but hot and sunny. It might be worth investing in some awnings to keep the summer showers at bay, and a couple of patio heaters to keep revellers warm as the temperature drops at night.
Overhaul your menu
Get rid of those heavy steak puddings and warming stews to make way for lighter summer dishes. Although people still want a good pub meal, in the summer heat, they’re more likely to be enticed by a Ploughman’s platter or barbecue nosh.
Sausages and burgers sizzling in the courtyard (if you’re lucky enough to have one!) can be a really effective way to entice custom through the doors - even without any advertising. The combination of a well-stocked bar with simple yet tasty barbecue dishes could bring regular social gatherings to your pub rather than someone’s back-garden.
And as we’ve already touched upon, your drinks menu is equally if not more important than the food. Give your offering a refresh by promoting rosé over red wine and stocking up on popular summertime beverages like fruit cider and Pimms.
Big up the bargains
Don’t forget that the price of food and drink usually plays a key part in attracting custom. People like a deal, so dream up a couple of buy-one-get-one-frees, a competitive ‘set menu’ price or even a happy hour and you’ll find people piling through the door.
Bear in mind that if you advertise the best deals properly, you don’t have to go crazy with the deals. One or two well thought out offers will be much more effective than lots of less attractive promotions.
Organise a beer fest
The best time of year to host a beer festival in the UK is between June and August, as this is when you’re most likely to have the weather on-side. You can find some helpful hints and tips on how to run your own beer festival here, but as a general rule, you’ll need to be prepared to:
- Make back-up arrangements for if it rains - a marquee is the ideal solution for this.
- Contact local and national brewers to negotiate deals for the drink.
- Organise food and entertainment – people are there for the all-round experience, it isn’t enough just to provide the drinks. Food and music go hand in hand with good beer.
Although a big event like this creates a lot of hard work, it can also be extremely rewarding in terms of both generating revenue and engaging the local community.
Here at Admiral, we believe that the make-up of a good pub is a passionate landlord with the right support network behind them to succeed and that’s why we offer comprehensive licensee support packages and training programmes. For more information or to speak to us about your dream of running a pub, why not get in touch or pop down to one of the Admiral open days.
Image used courtesy of Wikipedia and geography.org.uk