Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Now here is a pub that isn't going to be too worried by the forthcoming smoking ban. It is the Pembury Tavern in Hackney.

I had vaguely heard of it through the SPBW (Rose signed up and gets the Pint in Hand) and had confused it with a boozer I used to frequent when I lived nearby in Rowhill Road. I was wrong it turned out. Despite being located on a major junction that I walked passed several times a week I had no recollection of the building. It was quite possible it was in its burnt out stage then but I doubt it. there were loads of vast boozers around Hackney at that time, and probably still are, and I am sure I would have noticed it in a disapproving kind of way. My dole office was located not very far away but I can't remember heading for a post sign-on beer up there. I was too near the flat I guess.

To cut a long blog short - it has undergone a bit of a transformation. To be honest I am surprised to find such a pub in Hackney despite the passage of the years.

What made me drag myself across London to get there? In the end it was an accidental purchase of a Linux magazine, "Linux User and Developer", one that I don't really like because it's a bit waffly and short on practicalities. It was accidental because its colour scheme put me in mind of Linux Format a magazine that I do like. There was one good article in it however about this man, Steve Early, who had developed his own opensource EPOS system . His thinking was pragmatic about the issue - he didn't want to be beholden to EPOS companies who deliberately lock in their customers data to their systems and who are at the same time often small outfits vulnerable to going bust. Not only has the combination of Steve's programming talents and existing opensource software protected his data he can flex it around in various creative ways. He also has the potential of putting his ideas out to other businesses with similar needs and possible making some money from offering system support.

The article also listed some classic pieces of OSS that I feel suffer because of their familiarity. Open Office is certainly one of them. Just because its commonly bundled with distros doesn't mean we should take its capabilities for granted. Less well known outside of the Gnu/Linux world is Gnucash. I have started to look at it on my Ubuntu install. The article was reminder of what a powerful set of tools are available to people without the stranglehold of closed formats and code or , less importantly, licence fees.

Steve's other interest is beer and he is a founding director of Individual Pubs a mini-chain of pubs who's main speciality is real ale. The Milton Brewery plays a leading role in the beers usually available but guest ales aren't in short supply either. (like Samuel Smiths they also avoid your bog standard products like Fosters Guiness or Coca Cola). There was a nice looking cider on when I visited but at 7% it was beyond my reach.

The Pembury has been a non-smoking pub since its re-opening under the Individual Pubs banner and this can only be to its advantage. Not one of their devoted band of customers is going to be changing their drinking habits one bit. And others attracted by the beers and light spacious atmosphere but put off by the smoking restriction will suddenly be without an excuse to avoid the place. (Perhaps a pub garden or nice area to smoke outside is missing-the junction they are located on isn't the noisiest but neither is it the nicest).

They do a great menu. The bar staff are lovely and the management think out of the box. I hope they go on to bigger things. (I also hope they spare a thought for the neglected world of SE18 - me and R might soon be in need of an individual pub ourselves.)

No comments: