"Maybe I am being a little hypocritical because pubs are increasingly going down the foody and family-friendly routes, but it just strikes me as not being quite right that you will be able to get a beer in Burger King."
Bury St Edmunds is a beautiful market town in the county of Suffolk. Home to a Benedictine monastery, the Greene King brewery and now the first Burger King in the country with an alcohol licence.
Yep, a town that has a strong beer heritage (thanks largely to those monks) will be the first place where you can get one with your Whopper, though the fast food giant is looking to repeat the trick in other parts of the country, such as the notoriously quiet Hull and Blackpool.
Maybe I am being a little hypocritical because pubs are increasingly going down the foody and family-friendly routes, but it just strikes me as not quite right that you will be able to get a beer in Burger King.
For a start the food is consumed quickly – the clue is in the style of the outlet – so surely this means people will be drinking at speed too, something the trade has been at pains to discourage for years.
Then there is the fact that licensees are qualified professionals when it comes to dispensing alcohol. Should we be handing that responsibility out so easily? I speak as a former Burger King employee, no less - I worked in the Ipswich branch (not that I mention it on my Linkedin profile) to earn a few pennies before going to university.
Customers I recall, were not always the most charming, so I wonder how staff, such as the teenage me, would cope with a rule that states you can only serve an adult one beer with a substantial meal (is there such a thing as a 'substantial meal' at any fast food chain?).
Clearly people are going to try to persuade staff that they want another for 'a friend' or argue that 'it's only one more, what difference does it make?'
Young, inexperienced staff will be pressured to sell more beer and, as they will largely want to avoid confrontation, the chances are they will relent and give the customer what he (or she, because women can both drink beer and be annoying too) wants.
Do we really want to see people swigging beer from plastic bottles at the next table to a child's birthday celebrations?
I don't particularly.
The boundaries between different outlet styles has become more blurred in recent years. When does a pub become a bar or a restaurant, and does it even matter?
Customers want good places to eat and drink and it looks like Burger King wants to get in on that act. Perhaps they are slowly morphing into a Wetherspoons offering? You can be sure that once they can serve a single beer they will make the case for selling other types of alcohol too.
I suppose they can argue that if other restaurants can do it, then why can't they? Starbucks has gone down a similar route with its Starbucks Evenings concepts. If pubs can sell coffee why can't coffee shops sell beer or wine?
It's hard to argue against it from a level playing field perspective but I still think selling alcohol to be consumed on a premises should be left in the hands of those who know what they are doing and what the risks could be. That said, I'm never likely to go to a Burger King looking for a beer.
I don't half fancy a Chicken Royale right now though, with a soft drink mind.