Today is a day to rejoice. Of course for our mothers, but also because Wetherspoons pubs are to stop serving Sunday roasts. The newspapers have been full of frenzy that this supposed barometer of the man or woman on the street’s habits indicates the death of another great British institution.
Do we really now just want chicken fried and eaten out of a box rather than roasted on a tray and our beef shredded into a burger rather than carved and served with a Yorkshire pudding? I can assure you the answer isn’t a simple Yes, just because fast food outlets flourish. Every week for the last decade, I’m pleased to report, our Sunday lunch bookings at Roast have grown, so much so that we now start lunch at 11.30 and finish at 6.30 so as not to disappoint the 300+ diners who kindly choose us for their family day.
One of the reasons for creating our Borough Market restaurant was that back then, most people could only get British food in pubs. I was going to say dodgy pubs but it would have been superfluous as in those days, that’s what pubs by and large were. If you write back and name a pub that has always served good food, you will have proved my point by highlighting an exception to the rule. I imagined that with high quality ingredients taken on by professional chefs and managers and served in a beautiful building, we could wash the face of British food.
Food critics thought I was crazy, but that just tells you about food critics because from 120 seats we now serve around 2800 of you lovely folk a week.
I mention this not to be boastful but to point out to Messrs Wetherspoons and Co that if their food offerings were less motivated by price and their perception of profit and more with valuing their customers by sourcing better quality produce, they might not be in the position they now find themselves. They’re not just ditching their Sunday roasts; they now have also started putting loads of their pubs up for sale.
In their heyday, Wetherspoons may have had their finger on the pulse of their target market but with their offloading of sites they increasingly look like a brand that has sadly lost its way.
The nation has been spared. For that, as well as mothers, we have much to be grateful for today.