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American Beer Month
How can pubs cater more to women?

During American Beer Month 2002, four members of the majority gender in the country shared some of their beer knowledge with Real Beer. We concluded with a roundtable discussion led by Daria Labinsky.

Daria Labinsky: How do you think owners of on-premise establishments can make their businesses more welcoming to women? Is this something they should be trying to do?

Cornelia Corey: I think many on-premise establishments can and should do more to make women feel welcome. More and more women have significant amounts of disposable income and want to socialize in harrassment-free, comfortable surroundings. Also, too often women customers are viewed as annoyances (the usual excuses are they pay separately, don't order in rounds, are more work than males, etc.) Most important is the staff - if servers, bartenders etc. make women feel more comfortable, they will be more likely to patronize an establishment. After that, next would be clean surroundings (not to say men don't want that as well - it's just that women seem to notice them more). I'm not talking spotless and sterile but restrooms that haven't seen any cleaning or re-supply in a week are sure to send me elsewhere.

Lucy Saunders: The bar owner designs the environment with some goal in mind - some places are never going to be welcoming to women, because the owner only wants to hang out with the guys! If a bar owner wants to attract a mixed crowd, then making it easy for women to come in and find a comfortable place to sit and talk is as important as offering flavorful beer...Most women want to include conversation in their nights out.

Lisa Morrison: I think that on-premise establishments should make a conscious decision what its clientele will be and stick with it -- not worry so much whether the brewpub meets the Martha-Stewart test.

I see so many places that try to be so many things to too many people.

If you want to be a sports pub and attract the fans (both guys and gals) before, during and/or after the games, then by all means, put up the big TV, offer the appropriate drink and appetizer specials, throw the playoff party. Fans are fans, no matter what the gender.

If you want your place to be family oriented, keep in mind everything from a place for the kiddies to play to "family-budget-friendly" food and beverage pricing. Don't forget the changing table in BOTH Men's and Women's bathrooms -- and don't allow smoking.

I could go on and on. But the key is to know your "audience" -- male and female -- and give them what they want. Listen to your customers. Act accordingly.

More topics
- Women beer drinkers and stereotypes
- Should women beer drinkers be treated differently?
- How do you get women to try other beers?
- Do brewers still make "chick beers"?
- Are some people surprised to see women drinking beer?