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Pubs must move with the times

The recession has not been kind to the pub trade with an estimated 1,500 watering holes closing over the past five years. A combination of factors including the proliferation of off-licences and the increased popularity of home drinking has proved to be lethal for many pubs.

However, the pubs can't place all of the blame for their problems on external causes. They are in many cases the authors of their own misfortune.

Far too many pubs still serve the same bland, mass-produced beer and, even when they do serve food, the offering is all too often of the instantly forgettable variety.

That's no longer good enough. Irish consumers have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years and are no longer prepared to accept what many pubs, still stuck in the old-fashioned monopoly mindset, serve up.

Indeed food writer John McKenna, himself the son of a publican, has gone so far as to say that many pubs are doomed unless they offer better quality food and a wider range of beers.

Are most Irish pubs capable of transforming themselves into the new, sophisticated eating and drinking establishments that the public now demands?

Unfortunately the omens are at best mixed. While some pubs have moved with the times many more have not. Unless they do, Mr McKenna's forecast is likely to be proved correct sooner rather than later.