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Alfie's, High Street, Winchester
KNOW your market, as the saying goes, and you will be successful. And the number of punters piling into Alfie’s at weekends suggests the management know what their customers want.
Manager Craig Friswell explains: “We appeal to people across all markets. We get a large variety of people, but people know we’re open late. We were even open on Boxing Day evening, expecting it to be quiet but it was like a Friday night in here.”
Alfie’s doesn’t try to be something it’s not — its decor is comfortable but no frills. The menu is cheap and cheerful, with the cheapest pint, John Smiths, costing £3.20, and the most expensive, a pint of the black stuff, coming in at £3.80. A regular glass of wine is £3.30 and the usual pub favourites, like sausage and mash, will set you back just £4.50.
Even customers who said they weren’t bowled over by the food admitted they’d visited the pub before and would probably be back again.
“We used to have a midnight licence but we noticed the last hour was always the busiest and now we have a licence until one in the morning. When people have finished working in other pubs they come here for last orders because they know we’re going to be open,” Craig says.
He has been working for landlord Colin Clark for the past seven years and says the majority of drinkers — around half of whom appear to be students — often prefer to join the smokers outside, amongst the hubbub of the rear patio — even in the winter.
Thousands of special Alfie’s wristbands have been sold over the past two years, at a cost of £3, opening up a host of discounts for those sporting them.
The property itself is still owned by the St John’s Charity and is situated just a stone’s throw from the imposing King Alfred’s statue, adding to the feeling that Alfie’s has become something of a landmark in the city. So what’s the appeal? The building itself is not without character, but ultimately Alfie’s is a place for people to get together and have a drink: it’s always busy, it’s always there and it’s always open.