A man who built an app in his spare time that highlights independent pubs near the places of Wetherspoons, says he was amazed by the answer.
The Neverspoons Android app was downloaded nearly 18,000 times in its first week – more than Shane Jones had expected from the first six months.
It currently tops the ranking of free apps on Google Play.
The name is a pun on the Wetherspoons pub chain, but Mr. Jones said he just wanted to give the smaller pubs a boost.
Jones admitted that “a handful” of other chain pubs had already approached the app and said he planned to “eliminate” those people they complained about, including one from the Slug and Lettuce chain and some Greene Franchising King and Firkin.
“It is not easy to manually control thousands of pubs,” he said.
So far Jones has uploaded details of 2,500 pubs from across the UK and 971 others have been submitted by drinkers and owners.
A single collaborator has appointed 50 different pubs in Birmingham, he said.
Jones, who is now working on the app with his friend, Ned Poulter, is trying to control them all by looking for them online: he is unable to visit anyone personally since he has an underlying health condition that requires him to protect.
He said: “The whole premise is that Wetherspoons is a huge chain and they don’t need much help.”
Mr. Jones was inspired after visiting a village near his home in Newton Le Willows – halfway between Manchester and Liverpool – before the blockade and seeing many closed pubs.
In 2018 The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) warned that 18 alcohol stores in the UK were ceasing to operate every week and the pub trade has faced even more difficult times since before the pandemic.
Wetherspoon has 875 pubs and 58 hotels in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and approximately 44,000 employees.
Founder Tim Martin sparked controversy at the start of the blockade when he said that the fired staff might not be paid on time and suggested taking a job elsewhere.
The company declined to comment on the app.
Neverspoons is a free download and is currently only available on Android phones.
It works by showing the user where the nearest Wetherspoons is located and then showing the independent pubs around it.
Jones said he “made some money” by running advertisements and receiving £ 200 in donations from supporters.
“It’s just a small side project: I’m a web developer, not an app developer.”