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It’s official: today’s youngsters are a bunch of lightweights. Well: that’s one way of putting it. You might prefer to describe them as “generation sensible”. Last year, a study of nearly 10,000 young people in the UK confirmed what many have long suspected - that young people are shunning alcohol.

The study found that between 2005 and 2015, the numbers of people aged 16 to 24 who described themselves as non-drinkers rose from 18 per cent to 29 per cent, while the numbers who had never drunk alcohol rose from 9 per cent to 17 per cent. So: almost a third of British youngsters do not drink alcohol. This is quite a turnaround.

The study did not investigate why this is happening, and there are many theories to explain this shift in drinking patterns, health being foremost among them. But whatever the explanation, this represents a dramatic change in the nation’s drinking habits; for most people of middle age and older, drinking alcohol in their younger years was a formative experience, a kind of proving ground, often beginning with under-age drinking. Getting drunk or having “a few too many” was seen by many as part of a normal night out.

So this new abstemiousness is good news for the livers and other major organs of the younger generation - but not so good news for people who run pubs and bars, where alcohol is of course an essential part of the offering. Pubs are closing at a rate of 18 a week and this shift in drinking habits is not helping to keep them open.

The zero heroes

But now brewers are beginning to fight back by developing alcohol-free beers and ciders that can compete with the “real” thing in terms of flavour and style. So if you run a pub or a bar, you would be wise to consider stocking a decent range of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks, as they are soaring in popularity: another recent study found that sales of low-alcohol and alcohol-free beer have seen a rise of 381 per cent since 2017.

Those with long memories will remember early attempts at alcohol-free beers such as Barbican, which resembled beer in its colour and fizziness rather than its actual taste (interestingly, Barbican is now sold as a “non-alcoholic malt beverage” in Muslim countries where alcohol is forbidden). But today’s offerings are much more sophisticated, the results of years of painstaking research.

Low in alcohol, big on flavour

So how are they made? Essentially, they are brewed in the same way as a regular beer, using the same ingredients. Then the alcohol is removed, either by heating the beer, which causes the alcohol to evaporate, or by a process called reverse osmosis, which uses a series of filters at a cold temperature. These processes can affect the taste, and the technique of injecting carbon dioxide to give the product its “fizz” can leave a metallic aftertaste, but new methods have been developed to retain those essential beer flavours. The results are often flavoursome and satisfying brews, with beer experts often giving them the thumbs up in taste tests.

Brewing giants such as Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken have launched dozens of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beers in the past three years. Among them is Heineken’s 0.0 and Budweiser’s Prohibition - whose name harks back to the origins of low-alcohol beer in Prohibition-era America. Guinness has developed a lager, Open Gate, which has 0.5 per cent alcohol.

Smaller brewers have also entered the market with low-alcohol beers such as Brew Dog’s amusingly named Nanny State. And now alcohol-free beers have received the ultimate seal of approval from the Campaign for Real Ale, whose Great British Beer Festival last year offered alcohol-free beer for the first time in its history. These were from the Dutch craft brewery Braxzz, which has developed an alcohol-free IPA, amber ale and the world’s first alcohol-free porter.

These beers are not only low in alcohol or alcohol-free; they are low in calories, too, typically containing around half the calorie count of regular beer - another selling point among health-conscious youngsters. Some Olympic athletes have started using non-alcoholic beer as a recovery drink, partly because it helps them to rehydrate, but also because drinking beer is a social activity and drinking alcohol-free beer ensures that they don’t miss out on the fun. This is a key factor for anyone running a pub or bar: people like drinking together, and these days it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not the drink contains alcohol.

Naught percent profits

For the publican and bar owner, the advantage of these new products is that they carry little or no duty, thus increasing your profit. There has been some consumer resistance to the fact that most of these beers are served in bottles. If you want to sit and sup a pint of one of these beers, you’ll usually need to buy, and pour, two bottles, which can be expensive. But now brewers are upping their game even further by offering low-alcohol beers on tap. The Suffolk-based brewer St Peter’s, for instance, now offers its alcohol-free beer Without on draught, as well as in bottles.

Canny publicans and bar owners will serve these beers as part of a wider push to attract younger drinkers. For many youngsters, the pub is seen as an off-puttingly old-fashioned place, but there are ways to freshen up your offering. Free Wi-Fi is a necessity, so if you don’t have it, you would be advised to install it - and make sure that the password is well publicised.

Furniture, too, can make a difference. By introducing more contemporary-looking pub chairs and pub tables, you can give your pub or bar interior a livelier, more eclectic appearance. You don’t need to go for a complete overhaul - but a mixture of traditional furniture and newer pieces will help create a more youth-friendly “vibe”. Tables such as Trent Furniture’s Shaker table in a light oak finish will add a touch of cool, while Trent Furniture’s Tall Dakota chrome bar stool will introduce shine and clean lines.

Your drinks offering, meanwhile, could be extended to include not just alcohol-free and low-alcohol beers, but low-low-alcohol ciders, too (one of the most popular is from Stowford Press). And there is plenty of fun to be had with alcohol-free cocktails. Many pubs and bars now offer tea and coffee, with an espresso machine behind the bar. And the trend for pubs to offer activities and experiences seems to be here to stay.

So perhaps there is life yet in that grand old British institution, the pub. It has had to adapt in the past in order to survive, and now it will need to adapt again to cater to the tastes and habits of the sensible, clean-living younger generation.

Have you read the latest edition of Bar Magazine yet?

The magazine’s April edition features an article that looks into current design trends that are taking the bar industry bar storm. As well as featuring new products and collections, it includes commentary from leading furniture designers and suppliers.

Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that our very own Robert Price was included in the article, giving his thoughts and opinions on what furniture, colours and styles are ‘in’ in 2019.

Bar design trends 2019

So, what are Trent Furniture’s thoughts on current bar design trends?

Rob drew on the fact that the industrial-chic trend that’s spread itself across bars over the past five years seems to have now had its moment in the spotlight.

Rob explains: “Dark and raw interiors are being replaced with natural, airy atmospheres with splashes of bright playful colour. Colour palettes are bright and are being paired with natural textures and plenty of natural light.”

Rob was also quick to explain that retro is a permanent fixture that can bring continued rewards, if done correctly. There’s a fine line between having a retro interior design and becoming a novelty themed establishment.

“Within the realm of retro, there are so many options for operators to take inspiration from. More recently, though, we’ve seen more bars and venues draw from 70’s design trends.”

Item’s like the loopback side chair and bentwood tall stool have art deco designs that were popular through the 60s and 70s and can be upholstered in a range of different fabrics and colours such as mustard yellow, dark orange and browns that were commonplace popular in this era.

You can read the article in full here on pages 61 to 66.

Got your own opinions on current bar design trends? Let us know in the comments section below.

Public holidays, including Easter, are a great time to increase your customer numbers. With a four-day weekend for most, there is plenty of opportunities to get some additional passing trade into your café.

It won’t just be your café that’s looking to make the most of the period though so you’ll need to get a little creative.

To help, we’ve put together some Easter themed ideas that are sure to get your café filled up:

Easter specials

The simplest and most common promotion technique in attracting Easter trade is to add some themed items to the menu. For restaurants, this would involve adding seasonal dinner plates but for a café, this could be done by selling fresh homemade hot cross buns, an Easter egg milkshake or some themed brunch options.

Host an egg hunt

If you’ve got some outdoor space, one way of getting good numbers into your café is to host an Easter egg hunt for children. Alternatively, you might prefer a host something less space-sapping, such as an egg-painting workshop. Both are just as likely to be a hit with young families.

Coffee inside an Easter egg?

Okay. This one might be a step too far for some, but it’s certainly going to get people talking about your café. A couple of years ago saw a few cafés in Australia and New Zealand start a craze that involved serving coffee inside Easter eggs.

The craze didn’t quite make its way to the UK but could your café be the one that brings the idea here? It’s certainly an idea that’ll get people talking! You can see what we mean in this video by Karvan Coffee in Perth, one of the cafés to serve the eggspresso.  

Café furniture

If you are looking to give your café a refurbishment to make it stand out from the competition, Trent Furniture has a range of traditional, contemporary and unique chairs, table and stools for cafés. Browse our full café furniture range today to see what’s available. 

If you don’t appeal to young families then your restaurant is missing out on a huge market. Having an atmosphere and facilities that are suitable for children means that you can attract additional custom through school holidays, weekends and evenings.

Some restaurants pass themselves as being child-friendly simply because they give infants a colouring sheet upon entry. But for parents, there are far more considerations that make your restaurant a child-friendly space that they want to take their children to.

For some restaurants, having children running around doesn’t fit with their brand. But if it’s a demographic you’d like to reach, here are some ways of creating a truly child-friendly atmosphere:

Children’s menu

You’ll struggle to find many youngsters that are happy to eat of the standard menu. We all know how fussy children are!

But while children’s menus are usually full of chips, nuggets, fish finger and beans, why don’t you add some healthier options in there, too? This is guaranteed to score a few brownie points with parents.

Furniture

A full-size chair simply isn’t going to cut it if you want to be seen as a child-friendly restaurant. The children’s faces will barely make it above the table, let alone be able to eat from it!

You’ll either have to have some booster seats handy or have a set of high chairs for the youngsters to use. Make sure that you have plenty available, too. The last thing you want to be doing is turning families away because your only two high chairs are currently being used!

Facilities

In terms of facilities, a toilet with a good baby changing space is top of the list for most. Preferably, your restaurant will have a designated baby changing room available complete with all the amenities the parent needs.

At the dinner table, you’ll need to stock up on some child-sized cutlery and some plastic cups. Believe us, giving kids plastic cups will save plenty of glasses being smashed!

Activities

Relying on children using phones and devices is a big mistake. Families eat out to spend time together and socialise; so the last thing parents will want is for their youngsters to have their heads buried in their phones. Instead, have a stash of toys, crayons and activity placemats ready for the children.

Spring is here and the sunshine is coming! Just like your home, there’s no better time to give your restaurant a new fresh lease of life with a clean and clear out than spring.

But where should you start?

Here are some areas you can’t afford to miss when you come to give your restaurant a spring clean:

Exterior improvements

The exterior of your restaurant will need to be brought into the new season. Through autumn and winter, it’s sure to have collected a fair amount of grime and dirt that won’t look great in the sunshine.

Pressure wash your walkways and entrance areas to clear the dirt and add colourful hanging baskets and table plants to your outdoor tables. Ensuring your exterior is up to scratch gives your restaurant the best first impression possible to potential customers.

Deep clean the kitchen

Wipe down sleeves, mop and declutter your walk-in fridges and freezers.
Fully clean your ovens
Clear all the grease that has built up on your hobs and grill areas
Reorganise storage areas
Steam clean cooker hood

Flooring

The wild weather through winter sees customers trudge all sorts of dirt through your restaurants. In time for spring, it’s recommended to give your flooring a deep clean, whether it be carpeting or wood. This gives your restaurant a sparkling clean floor, ready for summer. Trust us, it’s well worth the effort. 

Furniture checks

Every restaurant should regularly inspect their furniture for damage and signs of wear and tear. Doing so will prolong the furniture’s life and mean you don’t have to replace items so often.

Go around your dining area and ensure legs and tops are sturdy, and tighten up any bolts which have become loose or wonky. Check for scratches on metal frames and tears or rips in upholstered seating. Wooden table tops may need to be sanded or polished, too.

Your furniture has to endure a rigorous commercial environment, so it’s important for you to maintain them properly to get the longest lifespan out of them. You can also read our guide to keeping your restaurant furniture in good condition.

Replacing furniture

It might be that your restaurant needs a complete new overhaul of your furniture. Each restaurant will have different needs and requirements depending on the image they’re trying to present and the budget they have. Our furniture experts are able to advise you on possible chair and table combinations for your restaurant.

Whatever interior your restaurant is looking to create, Trent Furniture can help. Call us now on 0116 2864 911.

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