The Transition from wet-led to food led pubs

Richard Cerkasins
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

The rise of gastro & the fall of wet-led pubs

Why does Britain love their pubs so much? Is it for the atmosphere, beer on tap, the classic pub food or a mixture of it all? Wet led pubs have been the favourite since the Ye olde days but food led Gastro pubs are quickly becoming more common as the number of drinks only venues are dwindling.

Thousands of pubs have already fallen out of fashion during this shift. For 9 out of the last 10 years, we’ve seen a decline in the number of pubs in the UK; more than 25% of UK pubs have closed since 2001. Just last year 2000 pubs were lost forever with the majority of them being wet led.

Theres no doubt the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on how pubs operate. With the lack of support and severe restrictions put on wet-led venues during the majority of 2020, many were forced to adapt by offering food just to keep the doors open.

Covid might be more or less over but the menus haven’t gone anywhere yet. In fact many, have fully transitioned to full fledge Gastro pubs due to increased sales.

What is a gastropub?

A Gastro pub is a pub that specialises in high quality comfort food. Often offering burgers, pizza and other greasy favourites as well as pub classic prepared with care and fresh ingredients.

Transitioning to a gastropub

Creating a gastro food menu

You might already offer some pub classics like scampi but to really have success as a food led pub, a diverse well put together menu is a must. Theres plenty of great recipes online for you to consider.

This list of recipes from the Top 50 Gastro pubs, is the perfect place to start looking if your stuck for ideas!

Set aside some space

To get food through the door quickly and to a high standard you will need a ready to use Kitchen. This can be tricky if you have been running a wet led pub for years without a kitchen but you don’t need to bring in a bulldozer to start serving gastro style food.

Start by thinking about what you already have, particularly which parts of your pub are user used. Is the back office underused? Has your loft turned into a storage room? Is an extension an option?

Your budget will dictate what you can do next but as with anything new, it will require some time and investment to start seeing success.

Invest in the right tool and the right people

An experienced chef is a must if you want customers to keep coming back. To make the transition easier you can start off small by introducing a couple dishes or a weekly special to cut down on required staff and upfront investment on equipment.

An Important thing to note; with the addition of food, comes increased health and safety obligations. You will need to take out HACCP, implement food safety measures, complete additional risk assessments and pay closer attention to overall business compliance.

Yes, its boring but luckily it doesn’t need to be difficult. Compliance and ops management tools can help keep you organised. You can even try ours for free!

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