Exeter’s hugely popular Double Locks pub braces for higher demand


Many residents and visitors to Exeter list Double Locks as one of their favorite pubs in the city, mainly due to its wonderful location.

As it is located on the banks of the canal, some distance from the town centre, many people enjoy walking, cycling or kayaking to the pub and then enjoying drinks and food in the pub’s large garden , especially on a sunny summer day. .

But Double Locks chief executive Phil Cook said the pub’s location has both advantages and disadvantages.

Read more:Exeter’s Turf Hotel reopens – but it needs staff

And a look at Tripadvisor reveals mixed reviews from guests – 346 rated the pub excellent or very good, but 222 rated it poor or terrible.

In fact, if you google “worst pub in Exeter” you get Double Locks based on a Tripadvisor review from August 2013.

‘I would have to be on my knees dying of thirst before I even considered parting with another penny of my money in this pub,’ wrote the reviewer, who complained that the drinks were ‘way too much expensive” and that the staff were “extremely rude and unhelpful.

Managing director Phil Cook, who has worked at Double Locks for 11 years, told DevonLive that in a way the pub was “a victim of its own success”.

Idyllic location – Double Locks in Exeter

Whenever it’s a nice Saturday or Sunday, everyone decides to visit the waterside pub at the same time – and sometimes it will serve 1,000 meals in a single day.

“It’s more of a foodie destination than it’s ever been,” Phil said. “Food went from 30% to 50% of activity.”

Although Double Locks has an app customers can use to place orders, the pub’s remote location means that sometimes customers struggle to get the internet access needed to use it.

Phil said Young’s, the company that operates Double Locks, has invested a lot of money in the pub’s outdoor area, with additional bars and toilets, as well as a stretched tent and marquee to provide cover – something which really helped the pub withstand the impact. of the Covid pandemic.

More recently, the pub has invested in an Airstream barbecue and bar “to take the pressure off the inside”.

On pub prices, Phil said they were set by Young’s head office.

“We use fresh British produce so hopefully people will be happy with what they get,” Phil said. “Unfortunately, people will find prices rising everywhere due to increased business costs.”

Overall, Double Locks has a 3.5 out of five rating on Tripadvisor, thanks to 683 reviews. It has a rating of three for food, 2.5 for value, and 3.5 for service and ambience.

One review said: “This is one of the nicest, friendliest pubs I’ve been to in a while.”

The most recent five-star review was left in January, with the reviewer saying the food was “amazing” and the beer was “great”.

The pub is open all year round. Phil said: ‘We close early when the nights are dark, but people are still there during the day.

“We are one of the most dog-friendly pubs around. Sometimes we have more dogs here than people.

Double Locks is a dog friendly pub
Double Locks is a dog friendly pub

Indeed, a Tripadvisor review said the pub “really looked after my dog ​​with water and dog biscuits”.

The pub employs 20 to 60 people, depending on the time of year, but Phil said the location made recruitment more difficult. He said the pub still needed kitchen staff and additional staff from June to August.

“We are looking forward to a busy summer and expect it to be easier than last year when we had to greet people upon arrival and scan them due to Covid,” he said .

“We organize a lot of weddings, birthdays and corporate events. We organize events very well. We are known for our events such as Bonfire Night and our concerts, and we are very involved in charities.

“Saturday March 12, we expect 700-1,000 people to start and finish the Hospiscare Men’s March here between 11am and 5pm.”

Anyone planning to visit the pub by car should be aware that a diversion was put in place last June and is expected to remain in place until June. Roadworks mean the rail bridge linking Marsh Barton to the entrance road to Double Locks is closed.

The diversion in place is by road via the bowling alley in front of the Quai, called Water Lane. The route is clearly signposted and runs along the canal. For satellite navigation, use the postcode EX2 8DX.

You can still walk or cycle across the bridge – only motor vehicle access has been diverted.

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