I spent some time, god only knows why, reading a pub tenants forum earlier today and got so enraged I had to delete it. Lets be clear this is a tough trade, has been for some years, but there are good operators doing well in every model. For those that bemoan the tie, think on do you have the money for a freehold? could you convince finance to lend? In short do you actually have the nuts to cash the cheque you are talking?
Is your rent too high? Of course it isn’t, a company purchased that freehold with borrowed money at the peak of the market and, as daft as this may seem, they want a return on their investment. As the best publican in the world did you have the cash to purchase it? Of course not, you may be able to run a bar or a restaurant but you need a backer, do you know how hard they are to find? phone Barclays just for a laugh. Your dreams of the rural idyll or busy town pub are far from collateral.
Are you living in a building that you could never afford in a million years? are you paying your bills? welcome to a successful tenancy. Do you spend 90% of your life bemoaning your beer price and the evil PubCo? welcome to failure, learn to do research and read the small print people because you are not for this trade. The days of fast cars, sexy birds and cigars by teatime are long gone grow up buy a pub or negotiate terms otherwise piss off and leave the rest of us to our trade.
The other thing, since I am ranting, that drives me apoplectic with rage is ownership. I am sick to my back teeth of talking to tenants and managers who own/owned a house. Let me be clear, according to the law of the land, I own every last stone of the Plough and the mud that they were laid on but I do not own the pub. I could (its ok I wont) demolish the pub and own the subsequent flats but that is different. Neither me nor any future landlord will own the Plough, he is not some chattel to be passed. This is the Plough a building that already has more history than any one of us could ever achieve how could one person own that?
It is not that the fact that people claim title that drives me mad it is the dual issues of the fact that they don’t have any right to claim such (alleged) grandeur and also that they believe it is appropriate. As publicans we are merely custodians of our homes. Our job is, in short, to maintain and preserve our lady for the next generation. I could no more own the Plough than I could own the Solent but I will support this old lady and right her wrongs.
That is what true publicans do, we devote our entire lives into an entity that we can never claim as ours.
I should start this post by saying that the only property that interests me is pubs. I pass fantastic houses that would, in the past, have inspired dreams and piqued my architectural interest and don’t give them a second glance. I no longer look at my rental home and long to own a building again its all about the pub. In fairness, as I explained to somebody earlier today, I do technically own a house its just that I don’t live in it and ‘owe’ 80% of it to someone that has never worked and really doesn’t like me, but I digress. It occurred to my, whilst walking along the coast, that I don’t actually remember when this changed but it has. Nowadays my rightmove searches are just to reassure me that there is a residence on the island once I am able to go. It doesn’t occur to me to look at purchasing a house because I know that any domestic property is simply a stop gap until the pub.
A pub that has caught my eye on a couple of occasions was deserving of a closer look this weekend. The pub in question is a lease which is far from my ideal but sometimes you need to consider other options and it is a free of tie lease. My background research seemed to indicate that the pub company we’re shiny the current tenant out. There were lots of supportive comments and even recent gigs to support a well liked local landlady. When I checked the pub companies website there was no mention of the sale though, further research revealed that the tenant is in fact selling on her lease. In a shrewd move she has claimed that the pub company are selling out from under her when in fact it is she who is selling. Whilst this is clearly a single shot deal it does give her the benefit of increased trade in support of her plight, after all we all know that pub companies are mean spirited don’t we. So she plays the martyr and fills her tills whilst bemoaning the landlord and then presumably disappears when the sale completes.
This is yet another reason why good research is critical. In this case the outgoing tenant will have positioned the business such that there is no goodwill to transfer. You will arrive with a smile and a jaunty step to a crowd of upset locals who ‘know’ that you are part of the reason their beloved landlady is no more.
In other news I am another step above the analogue watch snobs now. I have saved myself the effort of looking out of the window 3 times today alone because my watch tells me what the tide is doing. In fact when I walked to the shops this morning I deliberately didn’t look at the sea, so confident was I in the accuracy of Mr Yan San’s device. This is true progress, technology making life simpler and easier. Why even as I sit here typing this I know that the reason that I cannot hear so many children is that the tide is in so the beach is empty. Not for me the archaic means of looking, oh no I am the master of technology and it tells me all I need to know. Some may say that I don’t need to know the tide state or the barometric pressure but to those I ask “do you need to know what your friend had for lunch?” Of course not but you still logged onto Facebook!
For those that are following my recovery I have an update. At the moment the medical profession is looking to be leading as Ms Nature makes a very strong assault. I have been in a lot of pain for the last few days which is what the medical nuts predicted some time ago. I view this as a desperate last push by the nefarious Ms Nature and am convinced that my stubbornness will win out, watch this space.