Thursday, 14 January 2016

"The bar that hates customers!"

The Society Rooms

The town of Ashton-under-Lyne, in Lancashire, never really recovered from a spate of street killings that hit the town's night spots in 2002. At that time, rarely a week went by without a newspaper report of a fatal stabbing, shooting, or someone being beaten to death on Ashton's mean streets. Since then, many pubs and clubs have closed and walking through the town on most evenings, today, is like walking through a ghost-town. 

While night-life in Ashton-under-Lyne, plummeted, the adjacent town of Stalybridge, went through something of a renaissance. Many new pubs opened, hoping to cash-in, when the town acquired the nickname 'Staly Vegas' and the pub trade peaked. However, the pie and a pint economy was not to last and like many other towns in the Northern Poor House, night-life in Stalybridge, has been declining for some time now. The Ruby Rooms, Pavillion Bar and Amber Lounge, have all closed and the 'Pad' nightclub, is now a charity shop.

Many people who go to Stalybridge (which can be reached by rail or bus), for a night out, generally start off by going to the 'Society Rooms', the local J.D. Wetherspoon pub which opened in 2002. The building which was the former 'Good Intent Co-operative Society', is situated at the top of Melbourne Street, which cuts directly through the town centre. This was a fairly decent J.D. Wetherspoon pub until about twelve-months-ago, when a new manager was brought in to replace the former manager, 'Big' John, who left to run 'The Smithy Fold' in Glossop, Derbyshire. Although cask beers are still on sale, the range of beers is not so good or varied as it used to be and prices have rocketed. Both the 'Cotton Bale' in Hyde and 'The Ash Tree' in Ashton-under-Lyne (J.D. Wetherspoon pubs), sell more hand-pumped cask beers at lower prices and a wider variety. By comparison, the Society Rooms, is a poorly run establishment where staff are inclined to treat customers like idiots. It can often take ages to get served and the situation is not helped by the under-staffing or that staff, go on walk about or scarper, when they see a customer. The pub struggles to keep five cask beers on sale at any one time. Comments left on the influential 'Trip Advisor' website attest to some customer dissatisfaction: "Poor selection of cask ales." "The bar that hates customers." "Staff go missing or wander about." "Culture that customers are disliked or looked down upon." "Staff need attitude training and training on how to run a bar." "Not one one of the staff smiles, instead they look at you as if you shouldn't be there."

Within spitting distance of the Society Rooms, are two friendly and hospitable little social clubs that sell some of the cheapest drinks in Stalybridge. At St. Peters Social Club on Corporation Street, a pint of Guinness can be had for £2.20 and over the road at the Staley Ward No.2 Conservative Club, a pint of Sam Smiths, can be had for £1.70. WI-Fi is available in both establishments.

If it's music and a good pint of cask ale that you're after, a trip to both The White House and The Q Inn, on Market Street, Stalybridge, is highly recommended along with the Stalybridge Buffet Bar, which can be found on the platform at Stalybridge railway station. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't go in there anymore the food is cold