Why can’t we get a great pub?

I love a good pub. I love good restaurants and cafes too, but there’s something special about a great pub.

Rightly or wrongly, the pub is a place I hang out with the people I love, my friends and family. We hang out at home too, but at the pub there’s no distraction of dishes in the sink or lawns to mow. It’s quality time. It’s an indulgence.

And it’s not like I can’t enjoy my friends’ company at any pub, but just like sharing a meal at a restaurant, the venue can add to the experience or it can detract from it. And I don’t mean it has to be flash, or expensive, or anything in particular. It just has to be right for the occasion. Sometimes, a pint of lager and a game of pool is perfect.

But with The Trusts holding a monopoly in West Auckland, we will never have a truly great pub. To make a pub great, someone has to really give a shit about it. Someone has to have a vision and pay attention to the detail. Someone has to think about who their customers will be, and the occasions they’ll be going to the pub. They’ve got to put themselves in their patrons’ shoes, and understand how their pub can deliver them a kick-arse experience. Someone who has skin in the game, taken the risk and put their livelihood on the line. If the pub succeeds – so do they. If the pub fails – so do they.

This is not The Trusts. This does not happen in West Auckland.

The best we can hope for is that The Trusts hire capable professionals. They will play it safe. They won’t take big risks because failure would mean bad press. Failure draws attention; mediocrity goes largely unnoticed. After all, it is community money they are risking.

If we keep the monopoly, perhaps The Trusts will lift their game. We might get a decent gastro-pub, or an Olde English Pub, or even an Irish Pub. Perhaps they’ll feel really bold and open a ‘brew bar’. There are successful formulas they can follow. But they are clichéd. They are contrived. They won’t innovate and they won’t really care.

And if we get rid of the monopoly, will we get some great pubs? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll almost certainly get more variety. And maybe we will get a gem… and at the very least, there would be hope.