What Makes a Classic Community Hub
There are some bars and restaurants that are just bars and restaurants, and then there are those that become community hubs. The difference is hard to pin down, just as it’s hard to pin down what makes some people the sort who seem to know everyone and put anyone they encounter at ease. George Orwell tried to imagine what the ideal pub would be like in 1946, writing “If you are asked why you favor a particular public-house, it would seem natural to put the beer first, but the thing that most appeals to me is what people call its “atmosphere.” Ask anyone else today what makes them choose their favorite neighborhood watering holes to return to time after time and they’d probably give you the same response.
George Orwell suggested that a public house with good atmosphere should have good, affordable food, quality drinks served in glasses that are comfortable to hold, an outdoor area, be accommodating to families, and have an ambiance with a sense of history. You could also say that a good atmosphere is one that is distinguished but not pretentious, intimate but not claustrophobic, personal but not intrusive, where you can both have a private conversation and possibly make a new friend. A good community hub should feel unique and distinct, but not so much that it is overly exclusive. These were our goals when we were deciding what Public House and The Social should be.
A good public house should offer something for everyone, but without becoming bland or losing its unique, appealing personality. This is the same quality that marks the difference between a people pleaser and someone made popular by natural confidence and an outgoing nature. That can take intent to bring about, and genuinely caring about your customers. When the bartenders and servers know everyone’s names like Speedy and Simply do at The Social, and when you can’t help but run into a friendly face amongst the regulars and occasional visitors alike, it makes a difference.
When a business chooses its location that is both convenient to its clientele and improves the community, it sends ripples out that say “we care and we’re in this together.” When a business chooses to support its neighbors and grow with them that builds strong, lasting relationships. Atmosphere is more than the type of lighting used and how good the music is—it’s also about contributing to the overall culture of the neighborhood and the city at large. A good community hub isn’t just chosen by a community—it helps to create it.
When we were planning Public House, we saw a great opportunity in Warehouse Row. We wanted the restaurant to be firmly rooted in neighborhood, to bring pedestrian traffic to the street corner, and create a true pub experience that facilitates urban community. When we see a packed house on weeknights and regulars greeting one another at The Social over drinks, we know we’ve succeeded in our mission to give Chattanoogans a comfortable retreat. After all, it’s in the names—Public House and The Social are exactly what they mean.