in·de·pen·dent pub group (n.): In British, a truck is a “lorry” and the bathroom is a “loo.” Likewise, “pub” is a more common word there than here for a bar that serves grub. But our friends across the Atlantic are no friendlier to corporate-owned agglomerations of cookie-cutter restaurants — and no less predisposed to euphemism. Hence the term “independent pub group,” an arch evasion of “chain.”
In a recent Bon Appetit article entitled “How to Spot a Great London Pub,” Kate Thorman offer some sound advice: “Avoid chains,” which she describes as “soulless.”
However, she then recommends a chain: “Remarkable Pubs, which studiously avoids the word ‘chain,’ runs some of Northeast and East London’s best local pubs, maintaining each one’s distinct character and atmosphere.” Thorman goes along with their language aversion, describing Remarkable Pubs and similar chains as “independent pub groups.” Yeeps.
Nothing’s less independent than a chain, so the word “independent” is a lie, while “group” is blander than white bread dipped in tap water. But such weird terminology will have to suffice until someone comes up with a smoother way to say “a chain, but not terrible.”