Wimbledon drinkers raise their glasses to spike the recession


As a new bar opens on Wimbledon Broadway, pubs say they are not worried about the recession

By Abbi Parris, Nikki Culley, Dan McKeown, Luke Ritchie, Rebecca Clancy

IT’S ALL hands to the pump as Wimbledon’s watering holes battle the recession – and there’s even room for more competition in the crowded market.

New bar Cento opened on November 20 on Wimbledon Broadway, with glitzy attendees including GMTV’s Jenni Falconer and OK! Magazine.

The opening came days before the British Beer and Pub Association launched a nationwide campaign to save pubs, after the recession saw 50 pubs closing each week.

Sam Silevni, Cento manager, said: “There is no danger for us in the recession.

“Businesses only suffer when they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Mr Silevni believes unique bars are at an advantage and their Italian tapas speciality will keep them going.

Joaquin Villajos Smith, 23, manager of Wimbledon’s Suburban, agrees.

“We build our clientele and cater for a specific crowd so the atmosphere keeps our customers coming,” he said.

“Unlike Wetherspoons, people don’t come here just to get wasted.”

However Wetherspoons, a big survivor of the recession with cheap prices and deals, opened six pubs in November.

Wetherspoons regulars, Daphne and Olive of Merton, said: “It’s cheap.  Full stop.”

Other pubs are experiencing mixed fortunes.

Thierry, manager of The Hand and Racquet, formerly the Hog’s Head, knows the business is not recession-proof.

The pub has lowered prices and offered discounts, aiming to keep its volume of customers and maintain market share.

“It’s been a success, in terms of customer loyalty,” said Thierry.

“Our advantage is service and price.  But especially service.”

The manager of The Alexandra was unavailable for comment, but the barman was upbeat.

“We’re doing great!” he beamed.

Eight out of ten people believe the pub is a symbol of British culture; seven out of ten want the government to do more to save them, according to polling company ComRes.

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