Thursday, 28 July 2011

Beer in the evening. 'The Ash Tree' in Ashton-under-Lyne. Is this the worst Wetherspoon`s in the country?

For the last several weeks, the pub chain J.D. Wetherspoon, have been running their first-ever national summer (2011) cider festival. At value-for-money prices, twelve excellent festival ciders have been on sale including 'Sheppy`s Farmhouse Draft', 'Devon Scrumpy' 'Weston`s Cider Twist' and the award winning, 'Black Dragon' from Glamorgan. It is to be hoped, that this is the first of many cider festivals to come.

In recent years, Wetherspoon`s have also organised a number of real ale festivals which have proven to be extremely popular with customers. They also sell on a regular basis, a variety of cask real ales and have a policy of supporting local micro breweries. With the average price of a pint now standing at £3.05, you can get a pint of real ale in many Wetherspoon outlets for around £2.20 or less, but prices do vary, between Wetherspoon pubs.

Though I rarely buy the food, which is served all day, the meals are popular (including the curry nights) with many customers and are sold at a reasonable price. There are facilities in many places for indoor and outdoor drinking, hotel accommodation, TV and Wifi provided, and children are allowed in with families, when buying a meal. At a time when many pubs are closing (1,300 last year), and pub beer sales are down due to huge tax increases, the Wetherspoon pub chain, have continued to expand and are opening more pubs.

Of course, there are some people who would not choose to drink in a Wetherspoon pub even though it is cheap. The pubs themselves can be noisy and overcrowded and the swearing in some places, can be atrocious. Similarly, in some pubs the standard of service can also be atrocious, but this varies from pub to pub. However, over the years, a common complaint about Wetherspoon`s, is that it suffers from poor service.

Certainly, the worst Wetherspoon pub that I have been in, is 'The Ash Tree' in Ashton-under-Lyne. On the entrance to this pub, they ought to inscribe in big letters: "Abandon hope all ye who enter here", so bad is the service. Rarely have I seen bar staff, so ignorant, clueless, and miserable, as in this place. In this establishment there is an attitude among some staff that proclaims: 'we couldn`t give a toss.' The staff are also inclined, to ignore customers that they take a dislike to, as well as, those who complain.

A friend of mine, told me recently that he`d been speaking to someone who`d bought a meal at 'The Ash Tree'. On being served his meal, he`d noticed that the waiter had his thumb in the gravy and he told him, that he didn`t want it. When asked by the waiter why he didn`t want the meal, he told him that his thumb had been in the gravy, whereupon, the waiter replied: "Would you prefer my two fingers?" Speaking personally, I once bought a meal in this establishment and found greasy fingerprints all over the plate. That was the last meal I purchased in 'The Ash Tree.'

Judging from comments left on websites such as 'Beer in the Evening', I'm not the only one who has a low opinion of this drinking establishment. Each drinking establishment is given a rating out of ten and 'The Ash Tree', scored 2.5/10. A comment left on site in April 2011, says this of 'The Ash Tree':

"Pub has improved since I was last in. Some of the staff show willing but those who have been there a while, are still lazy and ignorant...Speaking to some of the regulars, who told me of this establishment closing early on the whim of the staff."

A comment posted in January 2011 says: "If you`re not in 15 minutes before the last orders bell, there`s a good chance they wont serve you. keep an eye on your watch, as often the bell is very gently rung, as one or two staff seem to delight in saying you`ve missed last orders - hopeless...I go in less and less these days, it seems the management are determined to drive customers away."

In July 2010, a disgruntled customer says: "Staff seem to be going through the motions, seem irritated by customers. Bottles chucked into the bottle skip every two minutes, shattering.

In June 2010, another disgruntled customer says: "Worst Wetherspoon`s in the country and its on my doorstep."

Other comments left on the site, refer to "staff bone idle and ignorant", "Surly and ignorant bar staff", "Service still crap and staff ignorant as ever", "The staff are absolutely ignorant and lazy", "The staff just couldn`t care less."

Unlike 'The Ash Tree' which wont be winning any awards for customer services, 'The Cotton Bale' in Hyde, is listed in the Good Beer Guide (2011) published by the Campaign for Real Ale'(CAMRA). The pub which was rated 4.4/10 by the 'Beer in the Evening' Website, offers up to 12 handpumped real ales. On my visits to this establishment, I have always found the staff friendly and polite and the beer in excellent condition.

In Stalybridge, 'The Society Rooms', the Wetherspoon`s pub on Grosvenor Street, was rated 5.6/10 by 'Beer in the Evening'. A comment left on the website in February 2011 says:

"Ten handpumps all in use...service was fast and friendly. Quite a decent Wetherspoon`s - a lot better than 'The Ash Tree' in Ashton. Good cask ales at excellent prices. Service can be slow at busy times."

On my visits to this establishment, I`ve always found the standard of service excellent and the staff friendly and polite. Until recently the pub did sell Millstone beers but I`ve not seen any on sale for a while which is a pity. Nevertheless, there are always a good range of cask ales on sale for £2.10 or less, if the ABV is below 5%.

The chairman and founder of J.D. Wetherspoon, New Zealander, Tim Martin, is what you might call a hands-on type of bloke. He can often be seen in one of his many pubs chatting to staff and customers, with his notebook in his hand and his mullet-style haircut. Perhaps on one of his next trips to his rapidly expanding empire, he should pay a visit to 'The Ash Tree' and while he`s there shake the staff up a bit, or better still, transfer some of them to one of his pubs in Outer Mongolia, where they will find life, far more agreeable.


Dick Dutch said...

That's all well and good, but have Moorhouse's on draught, as well as their occasional and seasonal ales, for £2.05 a pint. I'd have to go as far as Bury and Burnley otherwise, so this place'll do for me...

Anonymous said...

I visit The Ash Tree a few times a week, after reading such a nasty review I think they are talking about another pub.The staff are by far the best around. The fish and chips is fantastic and the pub is spotless .The staff are always chatty and friendly .