Forty percent of Greene King sales are now in food, part of a market worth £42m across the UK. Leading players include the Greene King Hungry Horse chain, Mitchells and Butler's Toby and Harvester Inns (planning permission for one of each has been granted at Ravenswood) J D Wetherspoon (two new pubs in Suffolk this year, viz. Bury St Edmunds' Corn Exchange and Stowmarket's Willow Tree) and Marston's (The Mermaid in Yarmouth Road Ipswich, with a lodge hotel planned on the vacant adjacent site). Family dining out has moved up from the kids' favourite take-away to one where price, service and ambience of the surroundings knock the traditional pub for six.
Two asides to this article. The first is how amazingly popular The Mermaid has been since opening with a full car park lunchtimes and early evenings. Secondly, the application for planning permission for the Marston's lodge hotel was for an unacceptably bland building. Ipswich Borough Council's Development Control Committee rejected the application.