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Brewers Fayre is a chain of around 130 licensed pub restaurants in the United Kingdom located from Elgin, Scotland (Linkwood Lodge) to Hayle, Cornwall (Loggans Moor), and are owned by Whitbread. They are known for serving traditional British pub food.
The first Brewers Fayre pub opened in 1979 near Preston, called "The Farmers Arms". In 1995 50 outlets were added, at a cost of £85 million, taking the total to 280. At this time the Charlie Chalk Fun Factory was added to about thirty pubs. In 1996 52 were opened, with 17 having a Travel Inn next door; most were built near motorways. In early 1997 Whitbread introduced the Kiln & Kettle chain, which was similar to Brewers Fayre but without the children. Around the same time 90 more outlets opened. In October 1999 Whitbread formed a pubs and bars division (2,900 outlets) and a restaurants division (1,300 outlets) which included Brewers Fayre headed by Bill Shannon. In September 2001 34 outlets (5 in Scotland) were put up for sale. In 2003 it announced that 35 outlets a year would be added over five years.
Brewers Fayre pubs are designed to give the feel of a traditional English pub. Warm contrasting colours are used throughout as well as stonework and wooden panelling. A small number of restaurants also feature stained glass. Victorian-style lampposts are a feature in many pub car parks. Each pub was always given a name which reflected the area it was located in (or if the building was originally used for something else then it would take on that building's name like at the "Pirnhall Inn" outside Stirling). New pubs opened since 2012 have not been named individually but are just known as Brewers Fayre.
Disposals and re-branding
There used to be many standalone Brewers Fayre pubs, but in 2006 Whitbread agreed to dispose of the 239 standalone Brewers Fayre and Beefeater sites. These had traditionally lower revenues and as growth had stalled in them compared to the still-growing Premier Inn sites, they were seen as an obstacle to the company's sales growth. Sites were sold to market rival Mitchells & Butlers, and over the year after they were sold, pubs were re-branded to Harvester, Toby Carvery, and a selection of other brands. A large number of sites became Crown Carveries (formerly Pub & Carvery), and this sparked growth in the brand, which originally consisted of only a small number of pubs throughout the UK (they now have over 100 restaurants).
A small number of standalone Brewers Fayre sites were retained where there was land where a Premier Inn could be built, such as the Three Bells near Lymington and the Craigside Inn in Llandudno. In 2008 Whitbread sold a further 44 Brewers Fayre & Beefeater sites where planning permission for a Premier Inn was not possible (such as the Lauriston Farm in Edinburgh) in exchange of 21 Express by Holiday Inn hotels, which were converted to Premier Inn.
Brewers Fayre Local
A small number of sites were renamed Brewers Fayre Local. These pubs originally had a different menu but on the inside were designed more or less like a Table Table restaurant. The spin off brand did not appear to work as planned, and they are now just known as Brewers Fayre and have the same menu.
In 1998, 120 restaurants were re-branded as Brewster's in an endeavor to differentiate a set of more family-oriented pubs from those more suited to adults. Despite the initial similarities to Brewers Fayre, such as the environment and food offerings, Brewster's placed a greater emphasis on entertaining children; pubs had a multi-level play area known as the 'Fun Factory', children's entertainers and ice-cream machines.The brand's slogan was 'Fun for kids, relaxing for parents'. Another 30 outlets were added in the three years that followed. The brand was voted 'The Most Family Friendly Restaurant Chain In The Country' by the baby charity, Tommy's.
Despite Whitbread's best intentions, by 2004 sales in Brewsters started to slow down. As a result, five sites were sold in early 2005. Over the next twelve months the company integrated the majority of its 145 restaurants back into the original Brewers Fayre brand, in the hopes of reversing the negative trend. The brand had completely phased out by early 2006. The 2005-06 annual report indicated that it was beneficial for Brewers Fayre as it allowed them to focus more on families. Out of the original 150 outlets, all had kept their indoor fun factories but a small number had these factories cut down in size to become known as Play Zones.
In late 2006 a small number of Brewers Fayre restaurants were refurbished bringing in a more contemporary theme. The first site was the Newhouse in Motherwell (which opened in June 2006 as a pilot). The restaurants were not officially given a brand name however some kept the name Brewers Fayre but the logo was black instead of red while other sites were signed as "Contemporary Dining & Drinking". In autumn 2007 further Brewers Fayre sites were changed to this new brand and then again in February 2008. On 18 May 2008 Whitbread launched the brand as "Table Table". about 100 sites were re-branded in total but new sites opened after 2008 have all been new builds. Brewers Fayre has now stopped refurbishing its sites to this brand. Table Table had grown to 111 outlets by mid-2012. However Brewers Fayre has now converted a number of Table Table sites back to Brewers Fayre such as the "Phoenix Park" in Paisley.
Starting in December 2007 with the "Swansea Vale" Brewers Fayre, 6 restaurants were converted to the Taybarns format and one was bought from a rival company. This was an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. Whitbread announced plans to convert more Brewers Fayre sites to the Taybarns brand during 2009 and 2010, but this never happened, partly due to their high cost. Despite the success of Taybarns it was announced in March 2016 that all sites would be returned to the Brewers Fayre brand starting with the site near Barnsley (The Wentworth) and the last site to change was South Shields which closed in September 2016.
Brewers Fayre Buffet Place
Although a majority of Brewers Fayre pubs featured hot counters (Buffet Place now "our Chef's Counter") as part of their restaurants, the sites in Widnes and Barry were named 'Brewers Fayre Buffet Place'. they features a larger buffet counter with buffets available all the time. Extras such as cakes and salads are also available. The theme of the restaurant is also slightly different stepping away from the pub theme. In spite of this, these restaurants now just run as normal Brewers Fayre pubs.
After opening the Harbour in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland in early 2006, Brewers Fayre opened no pubs for over two years until "The Wobbly Wheel" near Banbury was rebranded from "Millers Kitchen". Despite the previous policy of disposals and rebranding of Brewers Fayres sites, the chain has seen a resurgence in popularity fueled by new menu offers such as 2 for £9 meal deals in late 2007, along with an option for 2 desserts for £2 in October 2009 and 2 Starters for £2.50 in 2015. In late 2008 a refurbishment program was launched. All sites were given a small make over featuring a new colour scheme, new carpets and paintings in the restaurants. Some of the first sites to be refurbished were the Meadows near Barnsley and the Oaks at Norwich Airport.
On 31 March 2009 the new theme kicked off with a new logo featuring the new slogan "Pub Food as it Should Be" printed on the menus. Sites continued to be refurbished, with the last site refurbished in 2010. New external signage was given to each pub at this time as well.
In December 2009, the Papermill in High Wycombe was refurbished and hot counters were added in the restaurant. To host theme nights on weekdays in addition to the main menu. After a successful trial at this location the programme was rolled out to further Brewers Fayre locations in September 2010 and then again during 2011. In September 2010 theme nights were introduced to all pubs, including those without buffet counters. These included "Pie Nights" and "Fish & Chip Shop Nights". This was a more cost-effective solution than conversion to a Taybarns or a Table Table restaurant, formats which currently have higher sales and profits than Brewers Fayre. According to Whitbread, it was "benefiting from sales at its Brewers Fayre and Premier Inn chain" in a 2011 economy in which "domestic price pressures [are] near their highest levels in two decades.
Fun Factories and Play Zones
Most Brewers Fayres have some sort of children's play area. A few pubs feature an outdoor children's play area. All sites that were known as Brewster's have a big indoor multi-level soft play areas known as the Fun Factory, with the exception of a small number of pubs which cut the size of the fun factories to make way for more dining space and renamed them Play Zones. Brewster the Bear was the firm's own mascot who appeared in the indoor fun factories. Brewers Fayre originally had Charlie Chalk as their mascot, but he was replaced after the take over of Brewster's in 1998. A few Brewers Fayre sites which did not become Brewsters also had Charlie Chalk Fun Factories which kept running up until they were eventually sold in 2007.
Brewers Fayre specialise in birthday parties for children, allowing private use of the Fun Factory.
In 2013 along with a refurbishment in the brand Brewers Fayre launched a new themed children's menu with The Beano's Dennis the Menace as the new mascot. The theme was originally going to be Scooby-Doo. In 2015 all Fun Factories and Play Zones were refurbished and incorporated the Dennis the Menace theme and renamed "Play at Brewers Fayre".
- The Times (London) 27 September 1999, Monday "Corporate profile", by Martin Waller
- Brewers Fayre profile, hemscottir.com; accessed 13 August 2016.
- "BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Rise of the all-you-can-eat restaurant". newsvote.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
- Cohen, Norma; Correspondent, Economics (2011-04-29). "Economy Watch: Reality rains on wedding parade". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2016-06-21.(subscription required)