What a monstrous thought! Thankfully, as far as I know, despite branching out into banking, weddings and car insurance, Tesco have yet to start a chain of pubs. And I don't think it's going to be happening any time soon.
Why mention it, then?
Well, it was what you might call a train of thought. And any train of thought will always call at the station that is my blog.
I was sitting in a pub in Hove after having made a long walk through town. I had bought a half pint of bitter shandy for the surprisingly sharp price of £1.55. As I sat down sipping it, I thought to myself about the pub environment. What a comfortable, warm place it was. On thinking about the price of the drink, and how it compared to other places I had been, I was somehow reminded of the fact that pubs and restaurants, by law, have to give out tap water for free if a customer requests it.
A few years ago there was a news story about an old lady who fainted in Tesco. The staff relieved her and a bottle of water was taken from the shelf to assist her. Once she had recovered, she was then charged for the bottle of water they had had to use.
Beggar's Belief, you might say. It's true, though, like so many other pathetic stories. This of course, made me think what would happen if Tesco did run a chain of pubs. They'd have to give away free water, wouldn't they!
But can you imagine a Tesco pub? All the facades would be the same. Instead of witty pub names like the Chorister's Arms or The Bishops Curtains (or even straightforward ones like the Royal Oak and the Fox & Hounds), they'd just be called Tesco, perhaps with the street name underneath. Of course, they'd have to put the word 'pub' somewhere too, lest any confusion emerge when a child walks in to buy some sweets.
The idea of pub facades being Tescofied is bad enough. But what about the innards? You can expect standardized furniture and interior design. Anyone who has been to more than one Subway on a frequent basis will know that all the pictures inside are the same nationwide. The same will be true of the Tesco. There'll be stock pictures of people smiling, drinking beer, a photo of a fireplace and a nice little countryside scene, allowing people to reminisce about the good old days before Tesco owned every public house in the country.
On tap will be all variety of Tesco brand alcoholic beverages, including the infamous Tesco Value Lager, which will be a bargain at 79p per pint!
Expect the busier Tesco branches to have self-service bars as well, where you just pour your own drink and put some coins into a machine.
The pubs will be very popular, naturally. This will cause a problem, as pub premeses are traditionally small and there won't be a lot of seating available. That's alright though, each seating area shall have a queue attribitued to it, including a special area for people drinking one pint or less.
Some pubs will just keep the same opening hours as they did before, but expect large, 24-hour pubs to open in major population centres, particularly where there are many students. Of course, they'll have to shut at 4pm on Sundays, as even a company as powerful as Tesco can not change the Sunday Trading Bill. And in that they shall be at a disadvantage against the traditional pubs.
But a half-pint of bitter shandy will definitely cost less than £1.55.