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Sydney Pub Features

How to score a perfect review

Or How to Screw it up Totally

At, we do, contrary to some people’s opinion, have a system for reviewing pubs. Generally, we go straight to the bar, introduce ourselves and grab a beer. We then proceed to explore a little, then we ask permission to shoot pictures, perhaps hang round a bit longer, perhaps make a few notes, then we leave.

The critical time is the first few minutes. This time can really make or break a review. They say first impressions last, well it’s perfectly true. We can often tell a good pub within the first minute of being there. And unfortunately, this is where a lot of pubs lose out.

Take the important first contact with the staff. If the staff are friendly, efficient and courteous, the pub is already 50% of the way to a good review. If the beer isn’t outrageously expensive, flat, or the biggest sin of all, not full, then we’re on a roll. Of course, we have the occasional offender, which is a truly disappointing moment. If the staff are surly or arrogant, if they’re standing around chatting with their workmates instead of serving the paying customer, they’ve just killed any chance of their pub gaining recommended pub status. They may even have garnered a scathing review, something like the reviews gathered by the Marble Bar and the Madison.

The disappointing thing is, maybe the place could have been good. Maybe if the staff had just made a small effort, we wouldn’t have had to drop the review bomb.

Once we’re over this first major hurdle, we have a chance to take in the surroundings. What we’re looking for here rather depends on the nature of the establishment. Is the seating comfortable? Is the décor pleasing to the eye? Do your feet stick to the floor as you walk back to your seat? How does it all fit together? Where are the pokies? (we don’t much like pokies, so we like them to be hidden away). How much is the pool table? What’s on the jukebox? Are the clientele the sort of folks that won’t slit your throat for a cent? Claustrophobic, agoraphobic or just right? All these questions get asked, and most answered, but if the first few minutes went badly, the pub is likely to be in a terminal decline. Perhaps even a suicidal nose-dive into the glory of the scathing review.

So what does a pub need to get the perfect review? Well, it has to have everything, but the most important factor is the first few minutes, from walking in the door to carrying your drinks away from the bar. If the staff screw this up, you’re out of there.

So, to close, here’s a list of the things which will get you a decent review

DON’T dunk our change in beer. This pisses us off. A lot. It’s also a well know short-changing scam with a long and illustrious history.
DO keep the place clean. Mop up beer spills quickly. Keep the ashtrays clean but don’t obsess over them
DO say ‘thank you’ after we give you money. Didn’t your mother teach you manners?
DO allow a happy atmosphere to develop. Again, staff are key.
DON’T ignore your customers. Don’t forget, you may be nice to us, but if we see you making an arseclown out of yourself with another customer, you’re still in trouble.

If all else fails. DO give us a beer on the house. We’re only poor corrupt journalists, and we take it when we can get it. It may not make your review any better, but it gives you another ten minutes or so to redeem the situation. It only takes one beer (sometimes even less) for us to write you off. The Madison’s bad review took one beer. The Marble Bar took less than three-quarters of a schooner. Hey, if John Laws can take backhanders, so can we.*

Finally, DO remember that your staff are your connection with the customer. Make sure your staff are friendly, polite, possess a sense of humour and aren’t secret closet axe murderers thank you.

* We’re serious. Though it may well make no difference, it’s worth a try



I may be drunk, madam, but you are ugly, and tomorrow morning I shall be sober. : Winston Churchill - more quotes...
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