The Coffee Publichouse
In consequence of the numerous inquiries received from all parts of the country with reference to the establishment and management of Coffee Publichouses, the Committee of the Coffee Publichouse Association deem it proper to lose no time in the publication of such information on the subject as they are now in a position to communicate. It is intended to embody in subsequent editions any corrections or additions that further experience may suggest.
28 Mount Street, London, W.
THE COFFEE PUBLICHOUSE NEEDED EVERYWHERE.
Why does the working man spend his wages at the publichouse? Why does he not stay at home with his wife and family?
Even if his home be cheerful and pleasant—and in London or other towns it is often very much the reverse—he cannot be always there. His home may be one small room, in which he can scarcely stretch his legs in comfort, and where all the domestic operations must be carried on. Reading soon tires him, if he knows how to read at all, and in his home he probably has no other resource. After a chat with his wife and a game with the children, he seeks the society of his 'mates.' They have something to talk about that he can understand, and that interests him. Where are they to be found? At the publichouse.
The drink is an attraction no doubt; it becomes, unfortunately, more and more attractive; but it is not, at the outset, the chief attraction.
Give the working man a publichouse where he may meet his friends, and talk and smoke, and play games with all the freedom to which he has been accustomed, and where good coffee and tea—with stimulus and nourishment in them—take the place of beer and gin, and you set before him for the first time, plainly, the choice between sobriety and comfort on the one hand, and dissipation and wretchedness on the other.
The case of the women frequenters of publichouses is usually somewhat different. Women are driven to drink by ill-treatment, or insufficiency of food, or both. When the husband drinks, or trade is slack, the wages which reach the hands of the poor wife and mother are inadequate to meet the wants of the family. The husband will be fed; the children must be fed; and the mother is happy if there remain for her a crust of bread and a cup of tea. In the condition of exhaustion induced by poor living, many working women seize any opportunity of tasting the stimulants which afford them some temporary relief. It is of the greatest importance that the coffee, tea, and cocoa sold at Coffee Publichouses should be of such quality that their sustaining power may be acknowledged by persons who have been previously accustomed to the use of intoxicating drinks.
If the working man be unmarried, living in a solitary lodging, he has even more need of society than the married man, and if he can find it only at the publichouse, he soon contracts the habit of going there. His career and its end are thus eloquently pictured by Miss Nightingale in a letter addressed to the Duke of Westminster, President of the Coffee Publichouse Association, and which she has kindly permitted to be published:—
The Coffee Publichouse Association.
Dear Duke of Westminster,—You were so good as to speak to me about the subject of your Committee on Intemperance once, and to send me your Blue-book. 'God Speed,' with all my heart, to your 'Coffee Publichouse Association,' with all the heart of an old nurse like me, appalled with the diseases of hospitals, and especially of workhouse infirmaries, where the young-men patients—at least a very large proportion—come in from 'the drink,' and worse, come in again and again from 'the drink,' knowing that it will be 'the drink' again which brings them there, and will bring them there as long as they live; helpless and hopeless to save themselves, knowing that they are caught and will be caught (like Hindoo ryots in the moneylender's clutch) in the same desperate trap, which, like the Indian moneylender, extorts a higher and a higher rate of usury every year—another pound of flesh—to their dying day.
Almost all the unmarried men and some of the married ones (away from their wives to be near their work) in these infirmaries tell the same story:—
'I live in a miserable lodging where I am not wanted, and may not poke the fire [the definition of a comfortable lodging is to be allowed to poke the fire] or even sit by the fire. I have nowhere to go to but the publichouse, nowhere to sit down, often nowhere to take my meals. We young men lodgers often sleep in one room, with two or even three generations of the same family, including young women and girls, unless, indeed, we can get into the model lodging-houses. Coffeehouses might save us, model lodging-houses might make model men of us; nothing else would. As it is, here we are, and here we shall be, in and out of this same sick ward, "every man jack of us," till the last time, when we come to die in it.'
This is the story told, with every shade of feeling, from tears to desperation or callousness, sometimes mixed up with a pitiful love story, sometimes with a theft story, or worse, of thousands.
Yet these men are so far from 'all bad,' that if the nurse of the ward is a 'trained' nurse, which implies a character and education, to carry some weight and influence, they will scrupulously respect their nurse's property, and even her feelings, and will send her word if they have 'kept straight'—how seldom!—or when they have got work.
The children of these men are as much born to the same lot as the children of English are born to be English.
The excellent medical officer of a workhouse infirmary which we nursed used to say to all such patients, 'Now, my good fellow, do drink coffee for the rest of your life.'
Where are they to get it?
Thousands and tens of thousands will, I am sure, bless the Coffeehouse Association, especially if it could be made to include lodgings. What these men want is a place where they can have coffee, read the newspapers, and play games (without temptations to gambling); also a place where they can eat, and have decent sleeping accommodation.
Have you seen 'Our Coffee Room,' two vols., by Miss Cotton, now Lady Hope?
I must not even ask forgiveness for this long letter, filled with hope at your making this subject your own, yet ashamed of taking up your time, and of asking your Grace to forward this little cheque to its destination, and to believe me ever your Grace's faithful servant,
- His Grace the Duke of Westminster, K.G.
Another class who urgently need the refreshment and shelter of the Coffee Publichouse is that of single working women. In many towns large numbers of women are employed in factories and workshops, often at a considerable distance from their homes, to whom, when they require to take their meals, no place of shelter is open except the publichouse. In some parts of London women leaving the factory at midday may often be seen taking a cold and unsatisfying meal in the open air—on a doorstep or in a corner, anywhere—exposed to the inclemency of the weather. Wherever suitable coffee-room accommodation has been provided for them, working women have gladly availed themselves of it. One of the houses of the People's Café Company in High Street, Whitechapel, has many customers of this class. Working men also, in addition to suitable evening resorts, have urgent need of places of rest and refreshment during the day when employed, as in many cases they are, at a distance from their homes.
What is wanted, then, is an attractive place of resort for the men referred to by Miss Nightingale, and for the working classes generally—a house open to all comers; in short, a satisfactory substitute for the ordinary publichouse from the working man's point of view.
During the last few years houses approaching more or less nearly to this description have been opened either by companies, committees, or individuals, in London and in various parts of the country, and have met with different degrees of success. What has been done bears, however, no appreciable proportion to the need. In London, where there are many thousands of publichouses, the few existing Coffee Publichouses should be multiplied by hundreds in order fully to meet the wants of the people, and in other great towns the need is proportionably great, while every village throughout the country should have its Coffee Publichouse on a larger or smaller scale.
THE COFFEE PUBLICHOUSE ASSOCIATION.
With a view to the extension of this movement, a conference was held at Grosvenor House on the 21st of June 1877, by the kind invitation of the Duke of Westminster. There was a numerous attendance, and the papers read showed that Coffee Publichouses, when opened in suitable districts and conducted on sound principles, were largely used by working people and proved financially successful.
The result of the conference was the formation of the Coffee Publichouse Association, the object of which is 'to promote the establishment, on self-supporting principles, of publichouses without the sale of intoxicating drinks.' This it is now doing (1) by drawing public attention to the subject, (2) by the collection and diffusion of detailed information, and (3) by the formation of a fund to be applied to the establishment and improvement of Coffee Publichouses, either by making loans upon security at moderate rates of interest, by grants, or by other methods.
In pursuance of this object the Committee will be glad to hear from persons desirous of promoting the establishment of Coffee Publichouses in any part of the country. Any information they may desire beyond that contained in the following pages, will be promptly furnished by letter, and, if preferred, arrangements may be made to attend meetings or inspect premises, and to advise on the spot as to situation, internal arrangements, and other matters. As soon as the fact becomes generally recognised that Coffee Publichouses, under proper management, may yield a fair return for the capital invested in them, funds will be forthcoming for the extension of this movement, and it is therefore essential that the promoters of new Coffee Publichouses should set out with the intention of placing them as far as possible on a self-supporting basis. To this end they should not hesitate to avail themselves of such information and advice as the experience of the Coffee Publichouse Association may enable them to afford. The Committee would also be happy to hear from the managers of existing houses who may wish to confer with them on the subject.
It is hoped, indeed, that all persons engaged in this movement will place themselves in communication with the Association, whether for the purpose of affording or obtaining information, and the Committee will be much obliged by the receipt from time to time of printed reports, balance sheets, and other papers showing the progress and results of enterprises undertaken in any part of the kingdom.
All communications to be addressed to the Secretary, at the Office of the Association, 28 Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, London, W.
FIRST STEPS TOWARDS THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A COFFEE PUBLICHOUSE.
The first steps to be taken vary, of necessity, according to the circumstances of each town or neighbourhood.
In some instances a single individual, aided perhaps by a few personal friends, has advanced the necessary capital, and retained the management in his own hands.
If a wider range of support be needed, persons interested in the subject may be invited by a letter in the local newspapers or otherwise, to a meeting which may be held at a private residence, or in any convenient public room. A Committee may be formed and subscriptions received at the meeting, and, if necessary, an appeal to the local public for further contributions may follow.
A third plan which may be adopted either where sufficient funds cannot otherwise he obtained, or where it is proposed to open more than one house in the same town or neighbourhood, is to form a Company with limited liability.
Each of these methods of working has advantages of its own. A Company, if successful, may readily extend its operations, and will not lack funds for the purpose; and it affords an opportunity of aiding this movement to many persons who would be unable or unwilling to contribute money to a purely charitable undertaking.
A Committee, on the other hand, administering funds contributed by themselves or others, necessarily enjoy greater freedom of action than a Company. They may vary their operations in any direction they may deem advisable, or may increase the conveniences and attractions of the house, without too closely calculating the amount of profit to be realised. Within certain limits, however, the most liberal arrangements will be found to yield, in the long run, the best financial results, whether under the direction of Limited Companies or Local Committees.
CHOICE OF PREMISES.
The premises should be situated in the midst of a working class population, in a good thoroughfare, and, if possible, in the most bustling part of the thoroughfare; all the better if a street market is held there weekly. In the selection of a house it is advisable to notice—1. The amount of traffic passing through the street. 2. The side of the street favoured by passengers and containing the most important shops. 3. The prominence or otherwise of the position. It is advisable also to note the character of the adjoining premises, whether they are such as could be conveniently added to the Coffee Publichouse in case of need. If it is proposed to carry on mission work it is better that this should be done in adjoining premises, rather than in the Coffee Publichouse itself.
To be on the best side of a street is a point of greater importance than may be supposed. It is worth some sacrifice to secure, if possible, a corner house, with entrances from two or more streets, and an old publichouse has some obvious advantages. Its familiar aspect may attract tipplers who may be not indisposed to turn over a new leaf provided the break in their habits and associations be not too violent. At the same time, it is to be borne in mind that more table accommodation is required in a Coffee Publichouse than in a beerhouse, or gin palace. The larger the ground floor, therefore, other things being equal, the more suitable the premises.
Roomy and well-ventilated kitchens are of the utmost importance, in order that the health of the servants may be preserved, and that good work may be done. In a refreshment house, where the hours of work are long, where cooking is constantly going on, and where steam and unwholesome gases are continually generated, the proper ventilation of kitchen and scullery demands special attention, and there should also be plenty of daylight to ensure the proper cooking and perfect cleanliness of the provisions and utensils.
Convenient upper floors are desirable for the accommodation of the manager and assistants, and may be utilised also for letting lodgings, or as additional coffee-room space, according to circumstances (see page 19).
Where it is not proposed to purchase premises, a lease should be obtained, and, if for a short term, with the option of renewal.
DECORATIONS, FITTINGS, AND FURNITURE.
The Coffee Publichouse should be rendered attractive externally and internally, and the accommodation offered should be good and comfortable in every respect. The rooms should be airy and pleasant—full of light and colour. The impression sometimes entertained that a house may be made too fine for the working man is not shared by the proprietors of gin palaces, who know that the contrast between their lavish decorations and the squalor of the workman's home is an important element of attraction. The working man may be driven away by encouraging a different class of customers, but if this be guarded against, he knows how to appreciate lights, and pictures, and pleasant airy rooms as much as other people. It is to be borne in mind too that many of the customers of these houses, especially in great towns, are elderly people, thinly clad and in weak health, who would value a warm and cheerful room and a comfortable seat all the more because it is a boon they so rarely enjoy. It may be argued that as they are not accustomed to such luxury they will not expect it and may do without it, but the answer is that the Coffee Publichouse movement seeks to discover, not what people may do without, but what they need, and that it relies for its success upon the extent to which it may confer upon working people unaccustomed benefits.
The front of the house should be so decorated as to distinguish it from the neighbouring houses, and attract the notice of passers by. The sign or name of the house should be painted above the windows in letters extending the full width of the building, and also upon lamps fixed in front of the house, so as to be conspicuous when the lamps are lighted as well as by day. These lamps are the best advertisement of the business; they should therefore be fitted with brilliant burners.
The name or sign is not a matter of very much importance, but it is better on the whole to avoid giving to the Coffee Publichouse a distinctively class designation, or one which might appear to connect the house with any particular social or philanthropic movement. Any popular sign with local associations may be adopted with advantage.
If the upper part of the walls is papered or painted a pale tint, neatly picked out, with a darker dado below, and varnished, the best effect will be produced; painting, if properly done, will require renewing but once in seven years. A cheap process is to colour-wash the walls, with the same arrangement of tints. This is fairly effective, but in the impure air of London or of a manufacturing town, distemper work will need renewal annually. In the country it may stand two years or more. The appearance of a coffee-room is much improved by a few good prints on the walls, and pictures of any kind are seen to much better advantage upon a wall coloured as described than against a paper with coloured designs. Whether painting or papering be decided upon, the arsenical greens which are injurious to health should be avoided. Where a highly decorative effect is desired mirrors may also be introduced. The public rooms should be well lighted so that newspapers may be read with ease at any of the tables.
The ground floor of the house should be as nearly as possible on a level with the street. The entrances should be fitted with swing doors, to be kept wide open in summer, and ajar at other seasons. A few steps from the door should bring the customer to the bar, on the fitting and arrangement of which as much care should be bestowed as a shopkeeper gives to his front window.
The fittings of the bar in a house of considerable size in a large town, where an extensive trade is looked for, may be on the following scale:—
The counter should be of sufficient size to admit of three or more persons serving behind it. The top may be zinc or marble; the difference in cost is from 15 to 20 per cent. The counter is hollow. Underneath are convenient shelves and troughs with hot and cold water laid on for washing crockery, &c. Upon the top is placed a range of urns to contain coffee, tea, cocoa, and milk, all kept hot by rings of gas jets below. The urns consist of an outer jacket holding water which is heated by the gas, and an inner vessel of stone, containing the coffee or other beverage. The capacity of the urns may be from four to ten gallons, and the milk urn need not be larger than half the size of the others. Where the smaller sizes are used the outer jacket consists of a single vessel of the proper size, with a row of taps communicating with the inner jars. A set of four-gallon urns of this description costs £16 to £18, ten-gallon urns from £8 to £10 each. Where soup is made, a soup urn to hold two or more gallons should be provided for the counter, to be kept hot in a similar manner; gas may also be used for cooking sausages on the counter, the compact apparatus made for that purpose occupying but little space. Another prominent object, either at one end of the bar or on a small stand adjoining, should be a large filter with a crystal mug, offering pure water free of charge. Where aerated drinks are sold, either made on the premises, or supplied in cylinders by manufacturers, as is done in London and the neighbourhood, a small marble fountain is placed on the counter with four or more taps, according to the number of syrups with which the drinks are to be flavoured. The question of the use and supply of these beverages is discussed further on (see page 33).
Behind the counter is the cabinet or show case, consisting of a narrow sideboard surmounted by ranges of shelves, on which coloured and other glass may be tastefully displayed. Small mirrors may be introduced, if desired, into the cabinet, which, however, may be made to present an attractive appearance without rivalling the elaborate and costly decorations of the gin palace. The back of the bar should communicate directly with the kitchen, and if the latter be in the basement a lift should be fixed near the sideboard. On the counter or behind it, in full view of the customers, should be displayed an array of cold meats and other provisions.
The cost of a bar of this description varies from £70 to £100, according to size and character of fittings. It is obvious that the expense of decorations may be largely reduced if required. A somewhat smaller bar, with plain fittings, adapted for a moderate-sized town house, may be made for from £40 to £50; and for a small house in a country village the cost may be further reduced, if necessary, to little beyond the cost of the utensils—a plain wooden counter and shelves, neatly painted, being made to answer the purpose.
The remaining ground floor space should be furnished with small tables and comfortable seats. No other carpet is needed than a sprinkling of sawdust. The best tables for coffee-room purposes are those with iron frames and marble tops. The proper width is about 22 inches; the length varying according to the arrangement of the room. In a room of moderate size 5 feet is a convenient and economical length, each side accommodating four persons. In the purchase of tables and seating of any description, it is to be noted that the greater the length the less is the proportionate cost. Some indication of the expense of furnishing a coffee-room in a town may, however, be gathered from the following estimates:—
Tables, 5 Feet by 22 Inches.
|With marble top and iron frame||2||10||0||to||3||0||0|
|With marble top and wooden frame||2||0||0||"||2||10||0|
|With imitation marble cloth cover, and wooden frame||1||5||0||"||1||10||0|
|With Wooden frame and top||1||0||0||"||1||5||0|
Seats, 5 Feet in Length.
|Stuffed seats, American cloth||1||5||0||"||1||10||0|
|Stuffed seats, roan leather||1||10||0||"||1||15||0|
|French spring seats, leather||1||10||0||"||2||0||0|
|Stained wooden seats||1||0||0||"||1||5||0|
In many country places work of this kind may be arranged for at lower prices than are here quoted.
A liberal supply of newspapers and periodicals should be placed on the tables. The selection should be made with care, and should include, amongst others, good picture papers, papers containing special trade information useful to the working people of the district, and papers reporting the state of the labour market, and containing advertisements likely to be useful to persons, male and female, seeking employment. A few books of reference, such as a directory and railway guides, would also be useful. Chess, draughts, dominoes, and other suitable games should be provided.
The first floor, if intended to be opened as a coffee-room, may be fitted up with tables and seats in a similar manner to the ground floor, either with or without a small counter, and convenience for washing crockery. In a large house the lift may be extended to the first floor, or if this cannot be done, a speaking tube should communicate with the bar below. In case the first floor is not required for coffee-room purposes, it may be let to a working man's club, or other societies, for meetings, etc., or it may be utilised for letting lodgings and fitted with divisions or 'cubicles,' each of which forms a small bedroom suitable for a single man; any other rooms that can be spared in the upper part of the house being fitted in the same manner. The cost of dividing rooms in this manner, including partitions and plain furnishing with iron bedsteads 6 feet by 3 feet, will be from £5 to £5. 10s. each division or bedroom.
The importance of providing lodgings for single men, whenever possible, is earnestly dwelt upon by Miss Nightingale in her letter to the Duke of Westminster (page 8), and a correspondent of The Times—the Rev. G. P. Davies, of Berlin—has shown how great are the benefits which have resulted throughout Germany from the institution, by Professor Perthes, of lodging-houses for travelling mechanics. Comparatively few Coffee Publichouses yet established contain lodging-rooms, but where this has been done the profit is considerable. The Report of the first year's work ended December 31st, 1877, at the 'Rose and Crown' Coffee Palace, Knightsbridge, states that accommodation is provided there for twelve lodgers, that the beds have been well occupied, the sum received for lodgings during the year having been £127. 4s. 8d. In the 'Rose and Crown' Rooms adjoining, which is virtually a separate undertaking though under the same management, twenty-five additional lodgers are accommodated, and the beds are now reported to be never empty. It may be hoped that the example here afforded will be widely followed.
The kitchen appliances should be such as to secure, as far as possible, good cooking and perfect cleanliness, together with economy of time and labour. Attention has already been drawn to the importance of thorough ventilation of the kitchens. A cooking stove is much to be preferred to a kitchen range or ordinary kitchener, and may be obtained of any size required, the prices ranging from about £5 upwards. The kitchen should contain either two ‘coppers’ or a gas stove with two boilers, one for boiling water, and the other for making soup. The latter is a convenient arrangement especially where tea and coffee are required at an early hour in the morning. In some London houses, including those of the Coffee Tavern Company, the customers are allowed to bring their own chop or piece of meat to be cooked, and are provided with plate, knife and fork, salt and pepper for a charge of one halfpenny. Hitherto this accommodation has been provided for working men only at publichouses, and wherever the custom prevails the Coffee Publichouse should adopt it. A grill may be fitted up for the purpose at an expense of from £15 to £20. Gas ovens are found to work well, both for cooking meat and baking bread, cakes, &c. At the Wellington Bridge Temperance House, Leeds, where an average of 120 dinners are provided daily, besides a large quantity of other refreshments, a gas oven, occupying a space on the kitchen floor of about 4 feet 6 inches by 3 feet, is employed for baking the whole of the bread, &c., and cooking the joints required, and is remarkably clean and convenient.
The plan of partitioning off portions of the ground floor, or setting apart rooms for reading, smoking, or other purposes, though occasionally useful, does not always work well. Men like being in a crowd; isolation is not to their taste; and an arrangement of this kind is apt to lead to overcrowding of particular rooms while others may be almost unoccupied. The reservation of a room or rooms for visitors of a ‘better class’ is also to be deprecated. It is necessary to guard against a tendency to which this movement, in common with others, is liable, of moving gradually upwards in the social scale, after beginning; at the bottom. The Coffee Publichouse such as we are now describing is intended for the benefit of those who most need it—namely the working classes generally, including the roughest and poorest of those classes, and should not be diverted in any degree from that purpose. It may be very desirable that houses of a similar character should be opened for middle-class customers, as has been done by the People's Café Company in some parts of London with benefit to the public, but no part of the limited space in an ordinary Coffee Publichouse should be assigned to the exclusive use of any particular class of customers.
These remarks, however, do not apply to the case of rooms which may be hired as already suggested by working men's clubs or other societies for private purposes—an arrangement which may be a desirable one where the premises are large, and space can be spared for the purpose.
The only other exception to the foregoing rule is where a room can be set apart for the accommodation of women and children, or for youths. Wherever a room especially for women has been opened, as in some of the Liverpool houses, the boon has been highly appreciated. It should be understood that men, accompanied by their wives, may use the women's room, and every encouragement should be given to men who may be disposed to bring their wives and children to the Coffee Publichouse. Women should be encouraged to avail themselves of the public rooms when no other accommodation has been provided for them.
The admission of children and youths, unaccompanied by their parents, though desirable in itself, is attended with great difficulty, as they are not easily kept in order, and men will not frequent a house where unruly boys and children are allowed to flock in indiscriminately. The difficulty, so far as older boys are concerned, has been overcome at ‘The Chimes,’ in Great Smith Street, Westminster, by putting up a wooden room at the back of the house expressly for their accommodation; and a similar plan is to be adopted at the St. Katharine's Coffee Palace, High Street Camden Town. The example may be followed with advantage when the Coffee Publichouse has a yard attached, or other back premises of sufficient extent. As regards younger children, however, the necessary accommodation cannot so readily be made a part of the arrangements of the ordinary Coffee Publichouse. A most valuable boon would be conferred upon the poor children of great towns by opening coffee-rooms, especially for the supply of substantial children's food at low prices.
It is not easy to give an indication of the general cost of fitting up a Coffee Publichouse, as this, depends so much upon the size and number of rooms, the condition of the premises, the extent of alterations required in the building, and other circumstances. A house consisting of three small floors and kitchens may be fitted up on an economical scale for about £300 if repairs or alterations are not needed, and larger houses in proportion; but a somewhat more liberal expenditure would much increase the attractiveness of the house. If the accommodation consists only of a coffee-room, 30 to 40 feet long, with conveniences for serving light refreshments, and a small sleeping room adjoining, plain furniture and fittings might be provided for £100 or less. In connection with other arrangements, moveable stalls or barrows may be employed at small cost. These stalls may be supplied with provisions from the Coffee Publichouse, and wheeled to points where they are likely to attract the custom of working men at meal times, or on their way to work. Stalls and barrows of this kind have often been found very useful, and highly remunerative.
The Coffee Publichouse Association will be happy to advise persons in all parts of the country on these matters on receipt of particulars, and will also procure plans and estimates for building and furnishing when desired.
MANAGEMENT, ATTENDANCE, AND SUPERVISION.
Each Coffee Publichouse is to be placed under the charge of a competent manager, who should reside on the premises. It is desirable that he should be a married man, with a wife able to assist him in his duties. The manager and his assistants should all be total abstainers. Great care, it is scarcely necessary to say, should be exercised in the selection of the manager. He should be a man of sterling integrity, whose heart is in his work, vigorous and active, with good temper and pleasant cheery manners. Very much depends on the manager and attendants in regard to rendering a house attractive or otherwise. It is a mistake to suppose that rough manners on the part of managers and attendants are suited to rough guests. On the contrary, gentleness and courtesy will always be appreciated and responded to, all the more perhaps because the guests may have been unaccustomed to such civil treatment at their old haunts.
The manager should be a man of business habits; and it would be of great advantage to him if before entering upon his duties he were to be placed for a few weeks under the manager of an established Coffee Publichouse, so as to gain an insight into the work. An arrangement of this kind may usually be made, if necessary, through the Committee of the Coffee Publichouse Association. The manager's pay should not depend on the business done; still less should the business be turned over to him to make what he can on payment of a fixed sum as rent. If this is done he is placed under a strong temptation to sell articles of an inferior quality in order to realise, as he may suppose, greater profits: as has, in fact, happened, with the result of complete failure. Payment of an adequate fixed salary is therefore recommended, and if it be thought advisable to give the manager a direct pecuniary interest in the success of the undertaking—as in some cases it is—this may be done by allowing him in addition a small commission upon the proceeds.
The pay of managers and assistants varies very much. Some London houses provide lodging for the manager and his wife, but not board, and the assistants receive neither board nor lodging, but buy their food, if they think proper, in the house, at the same prices as the public. In other houses board and lodging are provided for the manager, and board but not lodging for the assistants; and in others again the whole of the employés are boarded and lodged like the servants in a private house. In the last case the assistants receive the ordinary wages of domestic servants. When female attendants are allowed board but not lodging the pay usually ranges from 9s. to 12s. weekly. Boys of fourteen receive 2s. 6d. a week, with board and lodging; older youths in proportion; and male assistants, without board or lodging, from 9s. a week upwards.
The pay of managers in London ranges from £1 to £2 a week, with board and lodging, and from £1 10s. to £2 without board. In some instances about £1 a week, with board and lodging, is paid for the services of the manager and his wife. In small towns and villages the wages will usually be less.
The number of assistants required will depend not only upon the size of the house, but also upon the character of the trade—whether lodgings are provided, or hot dinners, &c. In some London houses the attendants are all female; in others they are exclusively male, not even the manager's wife being allowed to share in the work. In a third class of houses both male and female attendants are employed. Each of these plans has been found to work well under different circumstances. The manager of a company which has opened houses in London with female attendants states that in no instance has any inconvenience resulted, nor have the young women been subjected to the slightest annoyance in the discharge of their duties. Everything depends in these matters upon the care exercised in selection and supervision.
Houses in small towns and villages may be worked by a manager and his wife, with one or more girls or boys to assist, according to the amount of business done.
Without needlessly interfering with the management, it is very desirable that regular supervision should be exercised over all the details, for unless the house be well managed success cannot reasonably be looked for. The natural tendency of a properly conducted business of this kind is to increase. If, on the contrary, it declines, unless from exceptional causes plainly apparent, no pains should be spared to ascertain where the defect lies. The provisions should be tasted, to ensure their being of the proper quality, and the whole of the arrangements inspected from time to time. A few words with some of the former frequenters of the house may reveal in what respects it has failed to meet the wants of the working people, for whose benefit it was established.
The Coffee Publichouse Association will be happy, on application, to advise local committees and others having the control of Coffee Publichouses, as to methods of keeping and checking accounts.
HOURS OF BUSINESS.
If the Coffee Publichouse is to fulfil its proper functions, it should be open during the same hours as the neighbouring publichouses. In London and some other great towns these hours will usually be from 5 a.m. till midnight. The legal hour of closing is the same as that of the licensed publichouses in the neighbourhood. This is a matter of police regulation in each district. The Coffee Publichouse may, however, open earlier in the morning than the publichouses, an advantage which should not be lost sight of. 'The early morning cup is found of immense advantage. The Liverpool houses open at 5 a.m., and the workmen call on their way to work. Many have by this means been saved entirely from the use of stimulants.' Wherever the house is open after 10 p.m. a refreshment house license must be obtained from the excise office of the district, costing £1. 1s., or 10s. 6d. if the rent of the house be under £30. The license expires annually on the 1st of April, and if taken out for the first time after the 6th of July, it will be granted for three-fourths of the sum otherwise payable. Arrangements should be made to render the long hours of service as little onerous as possible to the persons employed. In small towns and villages, where the work of the house is done mainly by the manager and his wife, the trade may be of such a nature as to admit of several hours' rest during the day; but in large houses, which remain open till midnight, two sets of assistants will usually be necessary, working alternately morning and evening, with a weekly change. In some cases an economical arrangement may be made by engaging assistants for the evening only.
PROVISIONS AND PRICES.
All the provisions sold in a Coffee Publichouse should be of the best quality; the supply should be liberal; the prices charged should be low; and, at the same time, the business should be conducted on self-supporting principles—in other words, it should be made to pay.
But, it may be asked, is all this possible? Can the best articles be sold at low prices, and sufficient profit be realised to admit of a fair return upon the outlay, or even to cover expenses?
It is for those who have the control of Coffee Publichouses to furnish a practical answer to this question. Such an answer, and one of a generally satisfactory kind, has already been furnished in the case of some houses in London, Liverpool, Dundee, and elsewhere, and it cannot reasonably be questioned that wherever sound principles of management are adopted success will be attained in greater or less degree. A Coffee Publichouse in a small town or village will probably be unable to command the trade which may be readily secured by a house situated in one of the great centres of population, but such a house should at least be rendered self-supporting after the first outlay; while the large town houses should be so conducted as to return a fair percentage of profit.
The Coffee Publichouse, it should be remembered, is not in the position of a dealer in rare and curious objects, who may naturally fix his profits high in proportion to the in-frequency of sales. On the contrary, it deals in articles of prime necessity, for which every passer-by is a possible customer. With an unlimited market the question is not what percentage of profit can be made on each article, but how much money can be profitably turned over. If the object be to do as much good as possible, that object will be attained by doing a large business at small profits rather than a small business at higher prices; and that is also precisely the way by which, within certain limits, the best financial results may be attained. In the refreshment business, more than in any other, a marked improvement in the quality of articles supplied is speedily recognised, and is followed as a rule by a large increase of sales; and this is especially the case in houses frequented by working people. The converse is equally true, and here is the secret of the failure, more or less complete, of some houses which appear at first sight adapted to do a successful trade.
The quality of the coffee, tea, and cocoa is a matter of great importance. It is possible that many of the customers who enter the Coffee Publichouse for the first time may never have tasted a cup of really good coffee in their lives; yet nothing short of thoroughly good coffee or tea will furnish a satisfactory substitute for beer and gin. Some coffee-houses are selling coffee, tea, and cocoa of such poor quality as to contain scarcely any stimulating or nourishing properties. The articles used may be low priced, purchased at a disadvantage from retail dealers, and, in the case of coffee, deteriorated by admixture with other substances; the mode of making may be defective and the proportions used insufficient.
Let us suppose that a working man, addicted to stimulants, wishing, perhaps, to turn over a new leaf, goes into one of these houses to take a meal, and calls for a cup of coffee in place of his accustomed beer. He is served with a weak and rather thick decoction, pleasant neither to taste nor smell. He drinks it and goes away, and he soon discovers that the stuff he has taken has no sustaining power, and probably it disagrees with him. He craves a stronger liquor, and believing he can only get it at the publichouse, he returns there. In the same way a poor working woman, exhausted by long hours of toil in a confined workroom or foetid dwelling, finds that the weak washy fluid too often sold under the name of tea will not allay the 'sinking' of which she complains, and she too returns to the dram shop. Yet coffee and tea of excellent quality, strong and fragrant, may be sold to a fair profit at 1d. per cup, holding half-a-pint, and a wholesome, though less nutritious, beverage at 1d. per cup, or 1d. for a larger cup, holding about a pint.
All the articles used should be purchased as far as possible at first hand.
Coffee at One Penny a cup.—The best Plantation Coffee should be used, such as will cost raw about 120s. per cwt. The usual charge for roasting is 2s. 6d. per cwt. The most economical arrangement would be to roast the coffee on the premises as required, a machine for roasting 61bs. at once costing about £2; but coffee roasting is a delicate process—that is, it requires great care and attention, and comparatively few managers would be able to attend to it. The following process of making coffee will be found to give good results where there is no special apparatus for the purpose:—
The coffee should be finely ground on the premises immediately before it is required for use. It is then to be placed in an ordinary mixing can, or covered pail, and the proportion recommended in this case is one pound of coffee to thirteen pints of water. The coffee should not be boiled, but the water must be in a boiling state when poured upon it, and the can or pail should have been previously warmed. The coffee thus made is to be left standing full fifteen minutes upon or near the stove, so as to be kept hot, and is then to be cleared by pouring through a flannel strainer. If a separate milk urn is not provided, hot milk may now be added in the proportion of three pints to the thirteen pints of coffee, and Demerara sugar (about 27s. per cwt.) in the proportion of three-quarters of a pound to the same quantity. Two gallons of very good coffee are thus produced at a cost approximately as follows:—
or about 1s. per gallon. The gallon contains 16 half-pint cups, which at 1d. each would produce 1s. 4d., or about 33 per cent. profit. Coffee of the quality described loses about 17 per cent. in roasting, and this has been allowed for in the estimate. The best milk can usually be contracted for at 4d. per quart, or less in some country towns. Coffee and cocoa are improved by the addition of hot milk to each cup when served, for which purpose a small urn is required on the counter.
It is to be observed that this is a somewhat rough and ready way of making coffee, and the proportion of coffee necessary is higher than would be required if a more scientific process were adopted. Some of the coffee-making machines recently introduced deserve attention on the score of economy, especially where it is proposed to sell
Coffee at Three Halfpence a Pint, or at a Halfpenny A Cup.—In either case it may be necessary to use a lower quality of coffee, but with improved appliances and skill in the making, it will be found possible to sell a fairly strong decoction at these prices. It is not advisable to supply the place of the coffee with other substances. Chicory is sometimes used, in various proportions, and other preparations for 'improving coffee,' consisting usually of burnt sugar, are employed to impart color and flavour. The flavour and apparent strength thus obtained are however in either case deceptive, as the stimulating and nutritive properties of the beverage depend solely on the quantity of genuine coffee it contains. Chicory, when used in large proportions, is apt to cause digestive disorders.
Where purchases are not made wholesale, coffee of the quality desirable cannot be profitably supplied at these prices. To meet the difficulty it might be arranged in some cases for two or more Coffee Publichouses in the same town or district to unite their purchases, so as to secure the benefit of the wholesale market.
Tea.—Inferior tea is not economical in use. The wholesale price of good Moning or Kaisow is usually about 2s. 4d. to 2s. 5d. per lb., and good Assam 2s. 6d. to 2s. 8d. A mixture of these teas in equal proportions, or two-thirds Moning or Kaisow to one-third Assam, gives good results. The preparation of the tea should be very carefully attended to, in order that it may be strong, wholesome, and refreshing. It should be made like coffee, with water, in a boiling state, poured into a vessel previously warmed. The tea should stand exactly ten minutes, and should then be drawn off. In ten minutes the infusion will be of the full strength, and on no account should the water be allowed to stand longer upon the tea leaves. The proportions may be three-quarters of a pound of tea to seventeen pints of water, with three-quarters of a pound of sugar. A small quantity of milk—two or three teaspoonsful—may be added to each cup when served. Assuming a pint of milk to be thus used the brew would produce eighteen pints at a cost of about 1s. per gallon. Good tea cannot be profitably sold for less than 1d, per cup.
Cocoa.—Many of the prepared cocoas contain farinaceous matter which renders them ill adapted for general use as a beverage, especially in warm weather, and often causes indigestion. Pure cocoa, however, is a valuable article of food, and it may be obtained in a convenient and soluble form under the name of 'extract,' 'essence,' or otherwise. From these preparations, when purchased wholesale, nutritious cocoa may be made at a cost of about 4d. per gallon, and may therefore be sold at 1d. a pint or ½d. a cup. The addition of a little hot milk and sugar is necessary. Where the price charged is 1d. per cup, the proportions of cocoa and milk should be increased.
Meat.—The supply of solid food of various kinds should be regulated with due regard to the habits and requirements of the neighbourhood. In large towns hot dinners from the joint may be served with advantage where facilities for the purpose exist. The profit directly realised does not correspond with the increase of working expenses, and there is some risk of loss, especially until the trade has been fully established, but, on the other hand, customers are attracted to the house, and the people of the neighbourhood are benefited. Or there may be a demand for chops and steaks, which may be profitably supplied at 7d. or 8d. each without risk. Hot dinners are less necessary, however, where accommodation is provided for working people to bring their own meat to be cooked, as already described (page 20). Cold boiled beef and ham are more easily served, and should, as a general rule, be provided. In some houses small plates covered with thin slices of boiled beef or ham are sold for 2d., and are largely in demand. In other houses plates of cold meat are not supplied under 4d. or 6d. If the best joints for boiled beef—silver sides, or, for a large trade, buttocks—can be obtained wholesale at about 9d. per lb., and good American hams wholesale at about 65s. per cwt., or 7d. per lb.; these prices will admit of a twopenny plate being sold with a sufficient margin of profit. Care, however, is necessary in the purchase of the latter, otherwise a parcel may be obtained which may prove unsaleable. When English hams are purchased at about 10d. per lb. the price of the plate must be increased, the waste in cooking being considerable. Sausages may be served hot from the counter—beef sausage and potato or bread for 2d., and pork sausage with the same for 3d. It should be borne in mind that salted and seasoned meats, such as ham and sausages, have a tendency to create thirst, and for this reason it is very desirable that the customers of the Coffee Publichouse should not find themselves obliged habitually to eat this stimulating-diet for lack of other provisions. In some way they should be afforded a choice of unseasoned meat. Good meat soup, with vegetables and rice, is sold in several London houses for 2d. a basin, and is very popular. These articles yield a good profit.
At the Dining Hall in Bristol, managed on the Glasgow system, a dinner is provided for 5d., consisting of a basin of soup, a slice of bread, 2½oz. of the best beef, and 5 oz. of potatoes. This Hall was opened in 1863, and has paid well from the commencement. The takings have been about £300 a month; the rent and taxes amount to £160, and the staff consists of a manager and wife, 13 servants, and three boys.
At the St. James' Hall, Leeds, opened in November 1877, where the receipts for provisions now (May 1878) exceed £100 a week, a small plate of meat, with two vegetables, or potatoes and bread, is provided for 6d., and it is understood that a fair profit is realised upon the sale.
Bread.—The quality of the bread and cakes supplied is a matter deserving the most careful attention, as affecting especially the poorest classes of customers. Where a large trade is done, it will be found an economical and advantageous arrangement for the baking to be done on the premises; or if several houses are opened in the same town under one management, ovens may be fitted in one of the houses of sufficient size to bake for the whole.
The following list includes most of the articles sold in the London Coffee Publichouses, with the prices usually charged:—
|List of Prices.|
|Coffee and cocoa per cup (half-pint)||½d. or 1d.|
|Do. per large cup (pint)||1d. or 1½d. |
|Tea per cup (half-pint)||1d.|
|Bread and butter or jam (half-round)||½d.|
|Slice of currant or seed cake||1d.|
|Loaf and cheese||1½d.|
|Soup, per basin (in some houses bread is included)||2d.|
|Rasher of bacon||2d.|
|Beef sausage and potato or bread||2d.|
|Cold boiled beef, per small plate||2d. to 4d.|
|Cold hamdo.||2d. to 4d.|
|Hot roast beef or mutton, per plate||6d.|
|Puddings (plum, rice, &c.), per slice||1d. or 2d.|
|Lemonade and soda water||2d.|
Aërated Drinks. — The question of the supply of these beverages at prices within the reach of working people deserves attention. In a paper read at the Grosvenor House Conference it was stated that some of these drinks were thought to stimulate rather than counteract the craving for intoxicating liquors. It is possible that the use of articles of inferior quality may have led to that impression, the bottled lemonade and ginger beer offered in the market at low prices frequently containing acetic acid, cream of tartar, and even traces of copper or lead, in quantities likely to be injurious to the consumers. There is, however, abundant testimony that pure aërated drinks are wholesome as well as refreshing, and they are especially valuable in towns where good drinking water is difficult to be obtained. If brought within the means of the working classes they would form an important and very profitable item of the trade of the Coffee Publichouse.
When these drinks are drawn from a fountain the expense of bottling is saved, and the cost proportionately reduced. The fountains, with apparatus for supplying them vary in price from £18 to £50 or more. Manufacturers in London will supply the fountains on hire, if preferred, together with the cylinders in which the aërated water is conveyed. The cylinder is usually placed underneath the counter and connected by a tube with the fountain above it. When empty it is easily disconnected and another put in its place, the discharged cylinder being returned to the manufacturer to be filled. If the apparatus is purchased, the aërated water is supplied at 6d. per gallon, and could therefore be retailed to large profit at 1d. per glass, allowing for the cost of the flavouring syrups. If the apparatus is lent, the charge is increased to 10d. per gallon; in this case the plain aërated water or 'soda water' might be sold at 1d., and lemonade and other drinks at 1½d. per glass. These drinks should invariably be iced, but when drawn from a fountain the cost of the ice is insignificant.
In places too distant from London to adopt this arrangement, and in London houses with roomy basements, it may be possible to manufacture the aërated water on the premises. Machines for the purpose may be obtained at from £30 upwards, according to size and make. Care is necessary in the management of these machines, but the method of working may be speedily learned by an intelligent person, and by their use aërated water may be produced at a prime cost of about 3d. per gallon.
The experiment may be tried of introducing other non-alcoholic beverages, especially in summer. These are now manufactured in great variety. Pure milk, iced, may be recommended as an excellent summer beverage likely to be generally popular. It may be profitably sold at 1½d. per half-pint glass.
COFFEE PUBLICHOUSES IN LONDON AND THE NEIGHBOURHOOD.
For the convenience of visitors, the addresses are appended of some of the Coffee Publichouses of various kinds now in operation in or near London:—
|The 'Rose and Crown' Coffee Palace, Knightsbridge (opposite the Barracks).|
The 'Temple Arms,' Seven Dials.
|The 'St Katharine's Coffee Palace,' 156 High Street, Camden Town. |
The 'Vauxhall Coffee Tavern,' Burnett Street, Vauxhall.
Extension of the Movement.
The rapid extension of this movement may be gathered from the fact that from May 1st, 1876, to April 1st, 1878, fifty-three Companies have been incorporated for the establishment of Coffee Publichouses and Coffee Taverns in various parts of England; one in the Isle of Man, and one in the Island of Jersey. Three Companies were in existence previous to May 1876, making fifty-eight in all. In addition to this, Companies with a similar object have been formed in Scotland.
THE COFFEE PUBLICHOUSE ASSOCIATION.
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF WESTMINSTER, K.G.
The Right Hon. W. F. Cowper-Temple, M.P., Chairman.
Lord Richard Grosvenor, M.P.
George Wm. Dodds, Esq.
Messrs. Barclay, Bevan, & Co., 54 Lombard Street, E.C.
Messrs. Ransom, Bouverie, & Co., 1 Pall Mall East, S.W.
Messrs. Gedge, Kirby, & Millett, 1 Old Palace Yard, S.W.
Messrs. Wagstaff, Blundell, Biggs, & Co., 12 Delahay Street, S.W.
F. A. Bevan, Esq.
Offices: 28 Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, London, W.
Spottiswoode & Co., Printers, New-street Square, London.
- The most striking example of successful work up to the present time is presented by the Liverpool British Workman Publichouse Company (Limited), which was established in 1875, with a capital of ₤20,000 in ₤1 shares. This company has opened (April 1878) twenty-nine houses, and is paying 10 percent. dividend; carrying over at the same time 5 per cent. to a reserve fund, and writing off a considerable sum for depreciation.
- The net profit on the first year's working of the 'Rose and Crown' Coffee Palace was £135. 18s. 10d, equal to 6½ per cent, on the sum expended, which was exceptionally large.
- Paper presented by the Directors of the Liverpool British Workman Publichouse Company (Limited) to the Conference at Grosvenor House.
- Not exclusively working-class houses.