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What do Chester pubs think of the Dry January campaign?

Cross Keys Inn and the Bear and Billet are encouraging people to give Try January a go

What do these Chester pubs think of Dry January?

It's January so it’s the time of year when new year’s resolutions are made and broken and many of us decide to forego alcohol for 31 days.

Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign may be kind to our livers, waistlines and wallets, but what impact – if any – does it have it on our local pubs?

We asked a handful of watering holes in Chester what they think about the initiative.

Jane Clark, of the Cross Keys Inn on Duke Street, said her business relies ‘totally’ on footfall all year round so is ‘disappointed’ at the very thought of Dry January.

She told The Chronicle: “January is traditionally a quiet month in our trade, and this only compounds the issue.

“I cannot say that I would advocate a dry period at any month of the year.

“I don’t see electricity and gas providers or council business rates giving us any compensation for lack of trade through a nationwide campaign.”

'Arguably January is the quietest time of the year'

But Jane said she was happy to report that their customers have remained with them so far, and she has only heard of two people who are doing ‘dryanuary’.

Instead of a month-long dry period, Jane believes people should be advised to have one or two alcohol-free days each week.

“I cannot say that I would advocate a dry period at any month of the year,” she said.

John Thomas, manager of Lower Bridge Street’s Brewery Tap, does not think Dry January affects business, but added: “If you want to give up drink, you can give it up any time. “Arguably January is the quietest time of the year.”

Tryanuary movement

In contrast to Dry January the Tryanuary movement encourages people to seek out independents breweries, beers and bars and has received the backing of many licensees, Jane Clark and the team at the Bear and Billet included.

Bear and Billet’s assistant manager Larry Richards said he understands the thinking behind Dry January but admitted it is ‘not the greatest’ for the Lower Bridge Street boozer.

He said: “A new year, fresh start so I see why it is in January but for pubs no month is probably the best month.

“People are less likely to go out with their friends for a couple of lime and sodas than they are for a couple of pints, so they will probably leave it for another time.”

Larry said they have noticed a lot of customers ordering soft drinks rather than alcoholic drinks, but revealed the pub will be celebrating National Pie Day later this month and Burns Night on January 25.

CAMRA's perspective

CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale – is an advocacy group which promotes real ale, community pubs and consumer rights.

CAMRA Chester and South Clwyd branch contact Craig Papworth said January is ‘the worst possible month to have a campaign for people to give up going to the pub’.

“We do not want to be critical of people who decide that they have had too much to drink over Christmas and want to cut back, but we have already had one pub that has closed this year – the Compass – and potentially there are others that could follow suit.

“We have got 28 pubs closing a week across the UK and this is certainly not going to help.”

Craig is also encouraging people to embrace Tryanuary.

He said: “We do not want people to stop going to the pub even if it means drinking soft drinks.

“I think pubs should do more to promote non-alcoholic drinks like mocktails.”

Carlo Iulianella, director of food and beverage at Oddfellows Chester, said they will ‘always support’ those who choose to take part in Dry January, especially when it supports charitable causes.

And to help those who want to embrace a cleaner lifestyle and moderation, the bar has put together two special cocktails – the Clean Margarita and the Green Bellini – which are only available this month.

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