Star Pubs & Bars invests up to £3m in outdoor trading spaces for their licensees

Thirsty Bear, Reading

Star Pubs & Bars will develop external areas at around 100 of its pubs in 2017 at a cost of around £3 million it announced today. The expenditure accounts for over a tenth of the company’s £20 million investment this year.

Two thirds will be spent on redecoration and signage schemes to improve their attractiveness to passing trade.

A third is allocated to transformative garden makeovers to meet growing customer demand for alfresco eating and drinking. The projects will increase covers and trading space and use all weather solutions to create gardens that can be enjoyed year round. Where internal work is being undertaken, the focus will also be on ‘bringing the garden into the pub’ via features such as bi fold doors.

Wherever possible, gardens will be made multi-functional and subtly zoned to cater for different groups of customers. With more families visiting pubs, play areas are being installed at over a third of major projects.

Star says pub gardens are more ambitious than ever before with a wide range of outdoor shelters adding to their attractiveness. Star licensees are investing too adding outside bars and more permanent cooking equipment to meet demand on sunny days as well as temporary structures such as marquees to enable them to tap into business from functions.

Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars managing director said: “Over 50% of people decide where they’re going to eat and drink when they’re out and about. Great looking pubs and outdoor areas are key to attracting them and give licensees the competitive edge. Outdoor space is a valuable asset. It should be treated like another room and carefully planned to best meet the needs of target customers.”

Case study: Thirsty Bear, Reading

A flat roof has given the recently refurbished New York style bar and pizzeria, The Thirsty Bear in Reading, outdoor space for the first time. The roof now houses an all-weather terrace, which has been packed out since the venue opened last month. The 45-cover 15 by 27 foot space increases Thirsty Bear’s seating by 41%. To maximise room, licensee Vince Healy has avoided planters opting to add atmosphere with murals.

“Outdoor space is invaluable in cities and towns. Customers enjoy drinking and eating outside and it’s also useful for preventing smokers clustering round the front door,” says Vince.