How To Start A Great Gastropub

Jan 16, 2014 by

Today’s diners seem to be making the switch from frequenting top-notch, expensive five-star restaurants to trying out more low-scale, casual establishments. One result of this shift in restaurant culture is the increase in popularity of the gastropub. You may have heard the phrase a lot recently, but do you even really know what a gastropub is? Most people don’t, so if you have been considering opening one of your own, I would suggest familiarizing yourself with the genre in order to create a successful new business. Modern day gastropubs are a great way to ease yourself into the restaurant world and jump on a trend that seems likely so stay around for a while.

What is a Gastropub?

Gastropubs have long been popular in the United Kingdom, with many people stopping by to grab a pint, as well as a bite of home-style cooking on their ways home from work. The phrase “pub” comes from “public house,” which is what these original neighborhood stops were first called. Not really a bar and not really a restaurant, a gastropub combines high quality brews with traditional comfort foods that patrons can enjoy at the same time. Today’s modern gastropubs follow in that same vein, offering a variety of brews as well as high-quality pub food in a more casual atmosphere.

What Makes a Great Gastropub?

When it comes to good gastropubs, there are a few things that the best of the best do well:

  • Location
  • Style
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Service

If you want to start up your own establishment, aiming for quality in those five factors can help to secure your success and authenticity as a real modern day gastropub, rather than just another wanna-be restaurant that looks and feels just like the rest.

Location

Choosing the right location for a gastropub is essential. Any old spot in a strip mall just isn’t going to cut it. The authentic pubs across the pond are typically located in the bottom level of old buildings that were probably once hotels. In order to get that same atmosphere, you’re going to want to look for a place that has some history and looks interesting from the outside. Consider the architecture and try to aim for something that has a European feel to it. If you can’t pinpoint any locations that provide you with the look that you are going for, you may want to consider setting aside some funds to be used for creating an exterior that will work for you.

Style

If you think about the interior style of the pubs in Great Britain, you will probably imagine dark woods, dim lighting, and antique-looking furniture. While you certainly don’t have to recreate a full pub in your new establishment, it’s a good idea to take inspiration from those places and incorporate some of that style into your own interior décor. Rustic wood tables combined with bare-bulb lighting are reminiscent of an old-timey pub and will lend to the ambiance that you are trying to create. To make your gastropub up to date, consider mixing rustic with modern for a new and interesting look.

Drinks

If you are going to call your new restaurant a gastropub, then you have to have good-quality drinks on tap. The basic name-brand brews just aren’t going to cut it for your customers. There are plenty of local breweries popping up everywhere these days, so try getting in touch with a few to see if you can sell some of their best brews. You can also try going global and importing beers from around the world.

Food

The best way to ensure that you’ll have returning diners at your gastropub is to offer really good food. Traditional pub foods, such as shepherd’s pie, liver and onions, or even fish and chips, can be updated and offered as homage to old-school pubs. Instead of trying to come up with really elaborate dishes, try to stick with some basics, amped up. Burgers with interesting ingredients or high-quality meats are usually really popular and can give you some flexibility to get creative without having to go gourmet.

Service

The best gastropubs that I have visited have a good focus on service. The bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly and the wait staff doesn’t mess around trying to get you to order things you don’t really want. Most diners want to get in quickly, eat slowly, and out fast, so try to train your staff to meet their tables’ needs without being pushy or annoying.

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Lauren Hill is a freelance writer who enjoys stretching her knowlege of the business world to new and fascinating heights.  Being a traveler, she has found gastropubs to be some of her favorite places to dine.  Lauren is a contributing author for MenuShoppe.

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