Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'll Be Back

I'll be back. That could mean a number of things. It might be a quote from a Sci. Fi. movie, which in this case it ain't. What it is is one of the finest utterances that a new customer can offer (another being "that was the best pint of beer I've ever had.") A friendly couple was down last night listening to music and having a few pints. Turns out they have walked a lot of the same parts of Northern England that I have, and knew what pubs, craic and ale are all about.In contrast, we sometimes get customers that are clearly unhappy that nobody is waiting their table, and that they have to go "ALL the WAY back to the bar" for another pint. A few have gone so for as to urge me, for the sake of the business, to change my operating model. I try to explain how the character and personality of a pub is diminished when the focus changes from a place to get together (oh, and maybe have a pint or two and some food) to a place where one goes primarily to have a meal. But when the wayfaring traveler comes through the door and settles in with a pint, a book and a content expression, all is well and the sun shines on the bemused countenance of humanity.

"I'll be back" is also an assertion that I have a high probability of achieving later in the week, as I'm about to head out for a needed few days away from the pub. It's nearly a certainty. I mean, I might just end up on a plane bound for Edinburgh, but that idea will no double consign itself to the dustbin of wishful thinking. As usual. There are things to be accomplished in parts far removed from the locus of daily exertion, such as the simple act of thinking without interruption, and I'm determined to get on with it. There are some lovely rural parts of Oregon and Washington to mess around with, and I'll be checking out some Seattle and Portland haunts that I've never been to come mid week. Perhaps I'll be in your gaff, settling in with a pint, a book and a content expression. See you at your pub.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I was in Eugene last night to pick up the new dray wagon that's replacing Green Jeep (deceased) and managed to get in some walking and pub crawling. My boots directed me at one point to Cornucopia on 17th and Lincoln for to see what was on the beer list. Over a pint of Lagunitas Saison (alas cold and fizzy, but satisfying) I encountered a copy of a Northwest brewpub guide sitting in a mini stack of books at the back "bar". I just had to thumb through the whole thing, since it was published in 1996. That's 14 years ago! I was struck by how much had changed. Many of the listed breweries no longer existed. Eugene at that point had six; only two of those listed survived. The Southern Oregon Coast had three, and now they are no more. The North Fork Brewing Company up near wee little Deming, Washington was listed as up-and-coming, and it's not only open but thriving in an unlikely location.

Now I really want to know why. What are the stories behind these ventures? What might I be able to learn that could help our little pub to survive? Having made it over two years in an "economic downturn", I'm much more aware of the number of things that can go wrong. Cash Flow. Taxes. Penalties. Staffing. Broken equipment. Stress. Long hours. It's a fragile business. These days the Internet, while useful in some ways, can be poison. A single bad comment or review will travel around the world before a good comment even gets its britches on. Nevertheless, a measured amount of determination and hard work will continue to be employed here. We have a nice little pub in a beautiful location. We have SPAM on the menu. We have proper pints of real ale. What could go wrong?

A new batch of porter will likely hit the pumps this weekend, and Tanninbomb is in FV1. See you at the pub.