Many pubs show no loyalty to regulars

Eating turkey, spending time with your family, watching rubbish telly, receiving unwanted presents, and buying gifts for people you don’t like are among the myriad reasons for disliking Christmas.

Turkey: enough to drive a teetotaler to the pub.

But it does have its upsides. One of them being that it is a great excuse to pop down to the pub with any mates you have not seen since last Christmas. The only catch is that there is the chance that the doors will be locked to your preferred boozer.

This is the curse of the ‘Closed – private party’ syndrome that afflicts far too many pubs at this time of the year. Numerous occasions in my drinking life I’ve turned up with a thirst at a favourite pub and been turned away.

This is surely no way for landlords or pub companies to treat people who may well have been drinking in your pub all year round – your most loyal customers in fact.

You’re not sorry, you’re just disloyal.

This is surely the worst way to treat loyal customers and I find it hard to believe that the retail industry would implement anything quite as potentially damaging to their prized most valuable shoppers.

But in pub-land it happens all too often. Yes, I can understand the desire to cash in at this very busy period but I wonder just how much damage it potentially creates among that year-round clientele. Maybe it is minimal?

The best ‘Christmas system’ I have encountered was at the East India Arms on Fenchurch Street in the City of London when it was operated by Young’s.

East India Arms: regulars-only zone over Christmas.

During the run up to Christmas the landlord would hand out keyrings to his regular customers and only those with one of these prized ‘passes’ was allowed to cross the threshold in the final working week before the Christmas break.

Any non-regular was not allowed through the door that week, regardless of how much cash they had stuffed in their wallets. As a regular this seemed a wholly satisfactory arrangement that kept the part-timers (‘Sunday drinkers’) out of the place.

It would be good to see it replicated in other pubs even if it meant that many doors would probably be closed to me during the month of December. But any lover of pubs (who understands pub etiquette) would have no beef whatsoever with a sign on any locked pub door that read  ‘Closed – regulars party’.


  1. Mister E Shopper on December 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Totally agree that decisions to exclude regular customers do not make too much sense to loyal suppers of ale. Landlords, like any business I suppose, have to cash in but there is naive short-term gainism here that can damage long-term patronage. It would certainly be a pain in the aspidistra to trudge to the pub only to be confronted with a “closed” sign pointing out in so many words that you are not worthy. Cheers.

  2. Glynn Davis on January 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Sorry for late response Mister E Shopper. To highlight my comments I travelled to a favourite pub on New Year’s Eve for a quick pint and was turned away from the door at 5:10pm because they were going to close for a period before re-opening for ticket-only NY party. At the time the pub was very busy so needless to say I was pretty annoyed.