As final preparations are made for the grand opening of the Marston’s pub and restaurant in Diss, an industry expert has said that its arrival could be a “double-edged sword” for the town.
Marston’s unveil The Thatcher’s Needle, in Park Road, on Monday, with families a clear target market as it features both indoor and outdoor play areas.
With it will come about 50 jobs and space for 180 diners, but also increased competition for the pubs and hotels in Diss and its surrounds.
Alan Crowest, licensed trade consultant at TW Gaze in Diss, said: “The arrival of a new, extensive public house/restaurant, is possibly something of a ‘double-edged sword’, depending on one’s point of view.
“Whether or not the prominent main road location will attract new trade into town, only time will tell – if it does, there could be ‘knock-on’ benefits, with customers also visiting the town centre and potentially other public houses.”
But Mr Crowest said the new pub is very unlikely to be welcomed by the existing competition. With tough trading conditions for pubs, with the loss of The Crown in Diss a recent example, Mr Crowest said the existing rivals to the Marston’s pub will need to “regularly assess their offerings to ensure they remain competitive”.
But he said the pubs can still thrive. “They can be more community orientated than perhaps the Thatcher’s Needle will be,” said Mr Crowest. “They can host sports teams have theme nights and charity events.
“It is all down to service.”
The pub’s arrival has been met with excitement among some. The Thatcher’s Needle Facebook page already has more than 1,500 ‘likes’.
Thatcher’s Needle manager John Paul said: “We are delighted to have our team on board and we can’t wait to welcome the community in to sample our extensive menu and to raise a glass to our opening”.
David Williamson, of the Mid Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which covers the Diss area, said the branch was reserving judgement until the beer and cider quality had been sampled, as well as its atmosphere, service, involvement with the community.
But he said: “As there are already at least nine establishments selling ale in Diss, the opening of another pub will obviously be questionable. Whereas the provision of a number of jobs will be welcome, the possible effect on many of the existing licensed businesses in and around the town could be detrimental.”
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