Telling someone “I’m off to the library!” just got a bit more suspicious.

By Mike Pomranz
March 27, 2019
David Clapp/Getty Images

The term “pub” stems from the phrase “public house” — a place where locals or weary travelers or anyone in need of some social interaction can relax and congregate with others over a drink. Unfortunately, one of the reasons pubs are closing in the United Kingdom at a rapid pace is that these kinds of “community living rooms” aren’t as popular or necessary as they used to be. Generations ago, your house was pretty boring: Now it’s where Netflix and the refrigerator full of beers you handpicked yourself are. So the British government is furthering a plan to try to keep pubs open by returning them to their roots — making them more useful to the public by allowing them to add things like post offices and libraries.

Launched in 2001, Pub Is the Hub is a not-for-profit organization that works with pubs that are “thinking of broadening their services.” Since 2013, the group has received government funding for its efforts — over £500,000 in total — including an additional £188,000 (about $250,000) announced this week for 76 new projects in rural pubs across England. Though the exact beneficiaries were not disclosed, the U.K. government did provide the examples of the new projects which include Post Office facilities, grocery stores, libraries, and children’s play areas (which, as a parent who lives in England, I can adamantly say is greatest thing a pub can have!).

“This funding will be welcomed by many projects and will be a huge boost for thousands of people living in, and visiting, rural communities,” said John Longden, Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub. “Services and activities delivered by professional pub licensees (landlords) through their businesses can provide a wide range of benefits; basic groceries, library books, training courses, outlets for local suppliers and new jobs — all delivering improved levels of well-being through vital social connections.” And that’s not to mention that these pubs will still offer beer and, much of the time, food.

Imagine being able to go to the post office and then grabbing a beer after a long wait in line. Or better yet, imagine wanting to go get sloshed but being able to tell your spouse, with all sincerity, that you are “going to the post office.” Yes, that latter scenario sounds even better.

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