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Wetherspoons hits Didsbury

Charlene McAuley finds out how the villagers are reacting to news that another big pub chain is on its way

Published on January 28th 2010.


Wetherspoons hits Didsbury

It’s official: Wetherspoons is finally coming to Didsbury. After years of trying to muscle its way into the village, the largest pub chain in the UK will take up residence on the Pitcher and Piano site on School Lane.

“I’ll definitely go and have a beer when it opens, they tend to have a good selection of real ales. The only trouble is, being a Wetherspoons, it’ll attract the riff-raff.”

Its arrival will create a South Manchester triangle of Wetherspoons that includes Chorlton's Sedge Lynn and the Lloyds No.1 Bar in Fallowfield. It will also mark the end of a debate between the pub giant and Didsbury residents that has been going on for years. When Wetherspoons previously showed an interest in the former Clocktower site, local people vented their less-than-kind views on the ‘disastrous effects’ that it would have on their community. Fast-forward to this week, and the response could be described as tepid, even a little warm.

The official mouthpiece of the villagers, Didsbury Civic Society, said nonchalantly, “At the moment, we’re not concerned. Wetherspoons usually run good pubs, so there aren’t any real problems.” None whatsoever? “Well, that could change, we shall see when it arrives.”

A more enthused resident, Richard Nash, said, “I’ll definitely go and have a beer when it opens, they tend to have a good selection of real ales. The only trouble is, being a Wetherspoons, it’ll attract the riff-raff.”

The ‘riff-raff’ element seems to stem from the cheap prices. With lager from £1.80 and cask ales from £1.60, the pub chain has become synonymous with a certain ‘type’ of clientèle, namely the ones who want to get tanked at a fraction of the cost.

Fallowfield’s Lloyds No.1 BarWetherspoons in Chorlton

But Didsbury has been attracting a certain ‘type’ at weekends for several years now, with fights and sirens a normal state of affairs. One local pub landlord stated, “Wetherspoons will attract what it attracts, but I don’t think there'll be an increase in trouble. More likely, the trouble will just move round the corner, rather than it all being on Wilmslow Road.”

Most people agree that Wetherspoons does tend to run good pubs, unlike other pub chains in the village, which regularly turn a blind-eye to ASBO-worthy behaviour. “It’s about how comfortable a customer feels and it all depends on how strong the management is,” said the landlord.

So, what can Didsbury expect from the arrival of Spoonies? Apart from ‘groovy loos’ – they’ve won at every national 'Loo of the Year' awards event – the pub chain spends on average £1.4m on each pub conversion.

The PR man for Wetherspoons said, “The Didsbury site is most likely to be a Wetherspoons pub and not a Lloyds No.1 Bar.” Which means no music or plasma screens (that'll surely thwart some unsavoury dance moves from the ‘tired and emotional’ drinkers). Either way, he continues, “Pitcher and Piano is definitely becoming a Wetherspoons.”

There we have it; Didsbury is set to become the home of the 753rd JD Wetherspoon free house. While many pubs in Manchester, and nationally, are on their knees, the rapid expansion of Wetherspoons is bucking the trend. The company has seen takings grow by 1.2 per cent in the last year.

With an extra £250m set to be invested in the opening of 250 pubs nationwide in the next five years, it was only a matter of time before Didsbury housed its very own Spoonies, and it's surely only a matter of time before one opens near you.

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Do One GordoJanuary 28th 2010.

The Pitcher and Piano is shit anyway. Massively over-priced and not a little poseurish.

whingeJanuary 28th 2010.

This new website is a mess! The site layout is utterly confusing, nothing zooms properly. user details are not altered when updated. Sort it guys, please!

NortherngeezerJanuary 28th 2010.

Hang on, i thought this was supposed to be a rant about a pub, not a whinge about Mancon.
It seems every rant you go on someone is having a pop at the new layout.
Give it a rest folks, Mancon aint gonna change back now are they..............LIVE WITH IT FFS!!!!.

NortherngeezerJanuary 28th 2010.

Oh yeah, the pitcher is shit btw, hehehe.

sz837rJanuary 28th 2010.

Fantastic story, well done. One chain outlet closes and another opens in its place. Christ !!!

AgricolaJanuary 28th 2010.

Whinge come on, keep on theme. Literally so in this case. Didsbury has been on it's too much drinking den knees for ages. West Diddles is much better with a much better range of restaurants, albeit not as pretty though.

Hero
Alistair NivenJanuary 29th 2010.

The last time I visited Wither spoons in Chorlton was with a Deputy District Judge. We enjoyed a very pleasant drink in convivial surroundings in the beautifully maintained former temperance hall. The drink was the superb Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc at £9.65 for the bottle from New Zealand, yes that's correct under a tenner. So don't knock the value or presume all riff-raff are worthless.

Hero
Katie AmosJanuary 29th 2010.

I just got a load of money off beer vouchers for Wetherspoons when I joined CAMRA - might save some for giving this one a go.

Smyth HarperFebruary 1st 2010.

Not that I needed one, but another reason to avoid Didsbury!

AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2010.

Beer at the Shaking Spoons is usually ok but the food needs doing over by it's food management, pub by pub, as it doesn't meet its aspirations. A further problem is that it is less profitable than it was which restricts quality of the offer.

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2010.

Didsbury village goes through spells of being a decent night out to being full of chavs and chavettes from the delightful Burnage and alike... some nights it resembles a school disco with fighting common place - the usual thing is for good ol GMP to put a few bobbies on the corners and the scrotes disapear for a while. Weatherspoons will attract the more pauperlike personell but no more than any normal weekend night. Looks like the police will be standing on corners for a while longer yet!

James11364February 23rd 2010.

“I’ll definitely go and have a beer when it opens, they tend to have a good selection of real ales. The only trouble is, being a Wetherspoons, it’ll attract the riff-raff.”

I think Richard Nash means the WWC especially the less young. who are the usual clients. but it is in Didsbury.

Stuart BamberSeptember 6th 2010.

Went here last Sunday. Couldn't resist the mammoth Sunday lunch (with a nice glass of red) for £7.99. It was... alright actually. We're not talking fine dining, but it was entirely edible. A mound of nicely-cooked meat, 2 lovely yorkies, and rather nice gravy. So in summary; good value for acceptable scran.

Stuart BamberSeptember 6th 2010.

Went to The Didsbury yesterday. It was a DISGRACE. Really have nothing whatsoever of any merit to say about this piss-take of a place.
- Massively rammed, hard to actually get to a table
- It was before 4pm and they were out of beef and pork (we went for a roast)
- When served, had gravy on already, both meat and gravy were COLD
- Returned, microwaved, but now the veg was cold
- Veg was massively undercooked and 9 small potatoes for two people?
- Repeatedly asked for some vino; came after we'd finished eating

The gravy was nice though.

So again, in summary; if you want a reasonably-priced Sunday roast, do NOT go to The Didsbury. Wetherspoons however gets all the basics right.

HerculeanSeptember 6th 2010.

Had exact same experience at The Didsbury - utter rubbish. Cheap, poor quality food served cold and late. Will give the Wetherspoons a shot when looking for a budget hangover cure...

Stuart BamberSeptember 7th 2010.

Have to say, I've been contacted by Paul from The Didsbury. Nice guy, good apology. Assures me this is a rare occasion etc. Nice response so will give it another shot.

WoksmugglerSeptember 7th 2010.

The Woksmuggler's Wench and I have had a few meals at The Didsbury and Romper (both Chef and Brewers) over the years and have always found the food passable, and customer service fair to good. Both pubs have recently been refurbished, so we decided to give them a go. The Didsbury was quite poor - small portions of not very well cooked and poorly seasoned food. The Romper was worse - a specials menu which didn't specify what the dish came with, and waiting staff who didn't know - hence the Wench received a lamb shank with mash AND chips - but no vegetables! Deputy manager did bring veg when we complained, but didn't want to listen to other gripes.
We also tried the Wetherspoons. No frills, nowt special, but was just what we expected.
On each occasion, we had a main each, a pint of draught for me and a coffee for the Wench. Prices - Didsbury and Romper £32.00, Wetherspoons £12.00. Where will we be eating in future? Hmmm, difficult one, that!
BTW I have been employed on several occasions over the last few years as a Mystery Shopper for a couple of large chains to report on their customer service. Think it is time Chef and Brewer considered something similar.

Stuart BamberSeptember 9th 2010.

I think it's quite telling that we'd both rather spend our hard-earned in Wetherspoons than this almost-Gastropub. Like I said, Paul contacted me and does seem like a sound guy who wants to make it right. Check out his blog, he doesn't pull punches when it comes to management restricted their budget and all that.

But ultimately he might wanna keep that quiet; it's just another turn off to add to the list.

Like I said, I'm gonna give it another go at some point.

thedidsbury.blogspot.com/…/ing-and-service.html…

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