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On Monday night, a new Channel 5 documentary takes a look behind the scenes at pub chain JD Wetherspoon.
The programme explores how the group has gained ground on its rivals by being cheaper, quicker or more responsive to customer demands, and reveals some of the tactics used to keep punters coming back – from cheap deals on food and drink to long opening hours.
But how much do you know about the popular pubs? Daily Star drinks up with 10 top facts…
1. There is no real JD Wetherspoon – the name was made up by founder Tim Martin. JD was in honour of Dukes Of Hazzard sheriff JD “Boss” Hogg, while Wetherspoon was the surname of Martin’s old geography teacher who told him he’d never succeed.
2. Martin decided against playing songs in his boozers after reading an article by George Orwell, which claimed a perfect pub would be free from background music.
3. There is a secret dress code. According to its website: “All customers must be fully clothed throughout their visit. The company does not permit the removal of shirts or footwear.”
The dress code hit the headlines last month when pals Mollie Wood and Amy Lee, both 20, from Reading, were kicked out of their local for wearing skimpy halterneck bra tops. Staff said it was as unacceptable as a man being shirtless.
4. Every carpet in a ’Spoons is different and special to that pub. It was noticed by London blogger Kit Caless, who travels around the country documenting the different patterns.
5. Dieters beware! The most belly-busting item on the menu is the large mixed grill with chips which comes in at a massive 1,949 calories and 213% of the daily recommended allowance of saturated fat.
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6. Fancy tying the knot at a ’Spoons? Well you can at The Knights Templar boozer in London which is licensed for weddings. The package costs £4,500 and includes a three-course meal for 100 guests, wine, a wedding planner, flowers, table decorations and a live DJ.
7. The chain has award-winning toilets – Wetherspoons’ bathrooms in various different locations have scooped many prizes in the Loo Of The Year Awards.
8. Many of the pubs are in listed buildings, including former banks, post offices, cinemas and churches. The Opera House in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, has many of its original features and hosts opera performances, while The Winter Gardens in Harrogate, North Yorks, used to be part of the historic Royal Baths.
9. The Counting House in Glasgow used to be owned by the Bank of Scotland – and it was the first Wetherspoons to open in Scotland, in 1996. The first in the UK was Colney Hatch Lane in Muswell Hill, north London, in 1979.
10. In 2017, the chain opened its biggest boozer, in Ramsgate, Kent. The Royal Victoria Pavilion – a former casino and nightclub – boasts 11,000 square feet of drinking space and holds 1,500 punters.
● Wetherspoons: How Do They Do It? airs Monday night at 8pm.
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