Practical, easy and cost-effective ideas to improve your pub

The current casual dining market offers pubs a unique opportunity to maximise the appeal of their venues with interesting interiors and alfresco facilities. It is simply impossible for pubs to survive offering mediocre food, drink and service – the customer has lots of choice.

Pubs are a uniquely British hospitality attraction so the acknowledged increase in tourism outside of London is an important opportunity for them.

First impressions really do count – consider kerb appeal and your pub’s frontage

  • Is your entrance appealing? Make sure there’s no litter, cigarette butts or weeds.
  • Paintwork must be clean and non-flaky.
  • Clean your windows and window sills.
  • If space permits, consider well maintained plant tubs or baskets.

Entrance and lobby areas invite customers to explore the venue

  • Your entrance should be open and inviting.  Your guests should be able to see into the venue immediately, tempting them to come in, so remove any partitions which might obscure the view.

How should I decorate my pub’s walls and ceilings?

  • Décor is incredibly important as it creates real atmosphere. Whatever the colour scheme, ensure it is well maintained with no flaky paint or peeling wallpaper.

What should I do with my pub’s flooring?

  • Carpets should not be stained or sticky and should be cleaned regularly with the right products.
  • Explore what’s underneath – often what may be beautiful wooden floorboards or tiles can be found hiding. These can be cleaned or renovated to make the most of the attractive wood grain or design.

How lighting can affect a pub’s atmosphere  

  • Atmospheric lighting is important for a pub. Not only can it highlight your venue’s best features, the right bulbs and fittings can create a relaxing setting and persuade your customers to stay a little longer.  


  • Arrange your furniture so people can sit in window spaces – window tables are always requested because they offer a view and natural light. People sitting in your window will also tempt kerbside customers.
  • Tables – Table tops need to be in good condition with no ring marks or stains – refinishing by a professional is not expensive. This can be done on-site so tables can be used again on the same day.
  • Fixed bench seating – consider replacing upholstery covers if stained or worn. Choose interesting fabrics, possibly with a more modern appeal.
  • If upholstered bench backs are still in good condition just recover the seats as they don’t need to match – an eclectic look can be quirky and stylish.
  • Loose seating – Is there another way you could rearrange the tables and chairs? Change is refreshing and can create the illusion of a full refurbishment.
  • Chair seat pads can be recovered – eclectic can be good here too – again, they don’t all need to match.
  • Repair or replace wobbly table or chair legs – loose furniture is cheap to buy.


  • To potential customers, heavy curtains on small windows say ‘don’t come in’.
  • Are they really necessary? Frosted glass effects can add interest and individuality, whilst keeping the interior naturally lit.

How to make the most of your pub’s bar and back bar

  • Bar counters should always be uncluttered, dry, attractive and well-lit.
  • Interesting back bar designs and lighting make your products look more appealing.


  • This is where a modern, clean appearance really counts and is appreciated by your customers (see Trip Advisor for evidence!). Consider design and materials to make this achievable.
  • They should be scrupulously clean with an appealing aroma.
  • Soap, toilet paper, hand towels and the general area must be regularly checked.

Easy ways to take care of your pub’s garden and patio

  • Considering your outside area is essential, particularly in the summer months when alfresco dining and drinking is demanded. Sweep hard surfaces (ensure no trip hazards), keep the grass cut and garden and plants well-tended.
  • Furniture must be attractive, renovated and in good repair – no sharp or rough edges. If the outside furniture looks good it gives customers the impression that the pub is well maintained, clean and importantly is going to be a good experience for them. This is especially important if visible from the road.

Food and menu ideas

Menus don’t need to be over complicated – simple, attractive and well-presented is all you need.

  • Consider all day dining to capture customers who wish to eat what they want, whenever they want. Ultimately, hungry diners will leave your pub if there’s no food on offer and will not return.
  • Look into the possibility of including breakfast.
  • Offer freshly ground coffee – instant just doesn’t cut it these days.
  • Service should always be friendly, caring and timely.

Maintenance management programme

Fresssh Image offers this to help you keep on top of the general wear and tear you will undoubtedly experience, to ensure your brand image investment is protected. We are experienced in restoring and maintaining hard surfaces and upholstered seating both on site where feasible or in our dedicated workshops.

Keith Hobbs and Annika Hobbs are joint directors of Fresssh Image which provides complete design, installation and maintenance services to the UK hospitality sector.

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