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Gloucestershire Business News

Bijou is beautiful: why Dursley says cheers to the micropub

A Gloucestershire market town is making a fightback against the trend for pub closures – by opening a micropub.

With Stroud planners this week backing the new venue, the pub, next to the Post Office on Salter Street in Dursley, looks set to begin trading from a previous opticians premises, pending licensing approval.

The news heralds a claimed revival of popularity for pubs driven by the micropub movement, with such ventures estimated to earn an average in the UK of £60,000 per year.

The Micropub Association says the on-trend mini hostelry is defined as "a small freehouse which listens to its customers, mainly serves cask ales, promotes conversation, shuns all forms of electronic entertainment and dabbles in traditional pub snacks". 

Property specialists Sanderson Weatherall recently reported a micropub boom, with more than 500 such venues now established across the UK.

While his business works off a more Mediterranean definition, Angus Wilkinson, who runs The Wine Shack bistro just three miles away in Wotton-under-Edge, said the Dursley move was more evidence of an emerging trend in small social spaces that help to add vitality to Gloucestershire's market towns.

Angus said: "It's excellent, not least because Karen Southgate and her partner Kevin Farmer came to see us to learn more about what they might do. If our story has helped, that's great news."

The Wine Shack, trading since June 2021, occupies a compact space at 7, Long Street, offering a maximum of just 26 covers. Angus said that outside space to the rear was consequently crucial during the aftermath of the pandemic.

"We open Thursday to Saturday and, though we began as a wine bar also offering gin, beer and lagers, we are predominantly now food-driven in terms of sales, while we have also built up a wine club, which has been so popular we have more than 100 members.

"If we sell a bottle of wine in the bar for £29, through the club it is £14.50 to take home, with 10% extra off for six bottles. Along with quarterly wine tasting evenings, it's extra value like this that helps to build customer appeal."

Council documents for the Dursley micropub show two seating areas and a small servery will feature downstairs, while upstairs an existing office area will become a two-floored flat featuring three bedrooms, a lounge, kitchen and bathroom along with a roof terrace and new external staircase.

Existing signage for Norville opticians will be replaced with handwritten publicity for the venue.

Planning officers told the committee: "The micro-pub would contribute to the vitality and viability of the town centre and given the changes in retailing behaviour relatively recently a social use occupying the site would be beneficial and a suitable town centre use".

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