Good times roll despite recessionBy Victoria Corbett
January 28, 2009
Times may be hard, but whether Wokingham people are burying their heads in the sand or simply drowning their sorrows, “life is beautiful” for the town’s pubs and restaurants.
Statistics from market analysts CACI show each outlet in the town centre has a credit crunch busting potential pot of £2.9 million from customers this year.
The news eateries and watering holes could prove resilient to the economic storm has been seconded by landlords and restaurant managers, who say their business is still booming.
The report ranked Wokingham sixth in the country for places with the highest available spend per licensed outlet.
Top of the chart was Romford in Essex, with £3.7 million.
The market with the lowest available spend per outlet was Regents Park in London, with £140,000, and Penzance in Cornwall was the lowest outside London at £480,000.
CACI said the results show residents in the south east can rest assured their bars and restaurants are the strongest in the country.
Clive Wallis, landlord at the Broad Street Tavern in Wokingham, said: “Because we are part of a pub group we can see a lot of their rural pubs are suffering because of the recession, but Wokingham seems to be in a bubble.
“We have noticed a small downturn, but nothing significant because we make more money on Friday and Saturday now.”
Eduardo Girrotto, manager at Ruchetta Italian restaurant in Rose Street, said the business had just experienced a very busy weekend and it expected to continue to do well this year.
He said: “It has been very good recently and after Valentine’s Day it usually starts to catch up and people realise life is beautiful and not to put money to the side all the time.”
The Red Lion pub, which also runs Pad Thai restaurant in Market Place, is also reporting a busy dining out trade.
Linda Brooks, landlady at the Ship Inn in Peach Street, said the pub continued to attract its usual locals despite the economic downturn.
She said: “I think overall pubs and restaurants are going to keep taking what they are. It is an escape for people to get away from it all to come out, although people might watch what they spend when they do come out.”
Paris Livanis, owner of The Courtyard in Market Place, said business had not been as good as previous years, however the restaurant was continuing to do well.
He said: “The spending pattern is not necessarily decided by how affluent the people are in the area, there are reports the more affluent people are the less they spend.
“But I do think Wokingham is a good catchment area.”
Dave Coulson, landlord at the Two Poplars in Finchampstead Road, said: “Our goal is to maintain what we have got here. We are a family friendly pub and also get a lot of people in for sport and other activities, so we are doing quite well.”
Nielsen Harrap, principal consultant for location planning at CACI, said: “Licensed premises have come under increasing pressure in recent years, with the impact of the smoking ban and rise in at-home socialising now exacerbated by the looming recession.
“But not all areas are at risk. We can see from this research that several areas are still ripe for success.”