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A pub, or public house, is a house licensed to sell alcohol to the general public. It is a drinking establishment in Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. In many places, especially in villages, a pub is the focal point of the community. Samuel Pepys described the pub as the heart of England.
Pubs can be traced back to Roman taverns, through the Anglo-Saxon alehouse to the development of the tied house system in the 19th century.
Pubs are socially and culturally distinct from cafés, bars and beer halls. Most offer a range of beers, wines, spirits, and soft drinks and snacks. Traditionally the windows of town pubs were of smoked or frosted glass to obscure the clientele from the street but there has been a move towards clear glass and brighter interiors.
The owner, tenant or manager (licensee) is known as the pub landlord or publican. Referred to as their "local" by regulars, pubs are typically chosen for their proximity to home or work, the availability of a particular beer, a darts team, or a pool or snooker table.
Until the 1970s most of the larger pubs also featured an off-sales counter or attached shop for the sales of beers, wines and spirits for home consumption. In the 1970s, supermarkets and high street chain stores and off-licences undercut pub prices; and all but a handful closed their off-sale counters.