In describing the importance of the American pub, author Ray Oldenburg wrote that the “third place” served as a neutral haven away from the home or office where people could gather to talk, build community and relax.These days, though, observers argue pub tables across America are emptying
as the culture shifts to one of work-dominated technological isolation; a world where people would rather spend their discretionary drink dollars in coffee shops and work on their laptops in solitude rather than recline at their “local” – the third place – with other regulars and chat.Pubs in Peril
While the death of the American pub is debatable, hard data show the threat is real in Great Britain. A 2014 study
found that one out of every five pubs has closed there in the last two decades, and that economic difficulty and shifting tastes are accelerating the trend.This is especially true in places like London, where skyrocketing property values make it more profitable per square foot to rent living space than offer a place to grab a pint. Of course, British parliament takes tippling seriously and has introduced legislation that allows petitioners to designate pubs as “assets of community value” with certain protections that includes rights for community purchase.In other words, the new law makes it possible for regulars to band together to save their pubs from greedy developers. Long live the Queen, indeed.American Pub Culture
Alas, this is unlikely to happen in the U.S. The combination of a free market economy, political divisiveness and an attitude of relative indifference toward local businesses, generally, and bars in particular, make it hard to imagine actual laws being passed to protect pubs.And that’s okay, because with a simple square pub table
and a few bar stools
you can create your own pub at home. Will it be considered the next generation’s third place? That’s hard to say, but with a few friends and some fellowship it would be well on its way.