Around 90 job applications a week are flooding in to Midland-based Punch Taverns, including lawyers, doctors and accountants looking to start a new life behind the bar.
The recession, which has seen thousands of pubs close across the UK, has failed to deter white collar professionals from seeking dramatic career switches with the Staffordshire group.
The pubs giant, which supports 18,000 jobs across the UK, boasts a total of 7,300 leased and 900 managed pubs. Lawyers and the like fed up with the corporate treadmill are queuing up to run them.
Punch regional operations director Giles Kendall said: “I think that the penny has dropped around people and the hours they are working, whether as an employee or if they are working for themselves.
“If people are working for an employer, their commitment is flat out. And some of the distances people commute are quite frankly insane – I know people who spend their lives on the M25.
“We are currently getting 90 applications a week and the numbers have gone up in the last six months.
And we have had more applications and interest than we had in the preceding year.”
Punch Business Relationship manager Ken Talbot said professionals were among the increasing numbers of people opting to quit the white collar rat race for a complete change of lifestyle in the pub trade.
“There are quite a few accountants coming along, as well as doctors and lawyers,” he said.
Mr Kendall said running pubs required considerable time and effort, with an average investment of around £25,000 for taking on a lease.
“But a business run correctly as a pub business can still be very attractive, although people have to work very hard at it,” he added.
Among the Punch estate in Birmingham is the George V pub in Sheldon, which landlords Clive Ryall and his partner Karen Witherington say has been transformed into a highly popular community pub.
Karen said: “This had a poor reputation as a pub when it was the Chelmsley in the 1960s and in later years when it was the Red Rooster.
“It had been shut for six months and we took over in September 2007. We have decorated it, put in new windows, laid on Sky TV and we are doing well.”