It’s just after midday on a pleasant Thursday. The alfresco area at Good Company, the Three Pound Group pub nestled between Karrinyup Westfield and the sprawling car park, is speckled with groups of mums, with bubs, enjoying a husband-free wine and share plate. A couple of older ladies indulge in a beer and dissect the big issues, while several tables are full of blokes, either “talking shop”, or on their own scrolling on their phones while sipping a cheeky beer. Yes, it’s a pub, but not as we know it. These days a major suburban shopping centre needs dining and drinking options as much as they need those big department stores such as Kmart, Big W or David Jones. As any regular shopper can attest, getting in and out of centres like Karrinyup Westfield or Westfield Carousel — finding parking, finding your store in the confusing maze of stores and then finding what you came for in that store — can take hours. And a girl, or guy, has gotta eat. And, maybe, drink. Beyond the parking being free at these labyrinths, there’s not a lot different to visiting the city centre, which used to be the major precinct for retail, entertainment and leisure. Dr Christina Lee, senior lecturer in English and cultural studies at Curtin University, says urban sprawl has seen the suburban shopping complex replace the city centre as the “one-stop shop for all their needs”. “Under one roof you can go to the cinema, browse your favourite high street brand, take the family mini-golfing, do your weekly grocery shop, and have a meal afterwards at one of the dining outlets,” she says. “For the time-poor, being able to bundle daily chores with leisure can be a lifesaver.” The popularity of the pubs, which often open outside of retail hours, in these major shopping centres shows how these precincts have become important places of commerce, consumption and leisure in their own right, Dr Lee adds. “Major shopping centres are attractive to pub operators because they are established places of leisure and entertainment that are easily accessible and attract a wide clientele,” she says. “The increasing number of family-friendly pubs not only shows how pubs today have a more inclusive attitude in terms of their customer base, but it’s also effective marketing. “Pop a playpen in the venue and include a kids’ menu, and you’ve got something for everyone — adults and children.” The pub is dead, love live the pub. Here are five of the best boozers located in WA’s big four suburban shopping centres. GOOD COMPANY Karrinyup Shopping Centre Three Pound Group also run The Camfield and The Elford. Like those venues, Good Company has about as much warmth and soul as an Ikea cafeteria. On the other hand, it’s spacious, user-friendly and you don’t need an Allen key to enjoy a cold beer with good food. Wrapped around the outside of the dining precinct of Karrinyup Shopping Centre, Good Company pours more than 20 beers spanning Swan Gold and Guinness to the pointy end of WA craft. There’s a big focus on other beverages, in particular Aperol spritzes and other favourites of ladies that lunch — and bottomless brunch. A mix of high and low tables, and big screens are spread across this sprawling venue that can hold 700 people. The location away from the stores means locals can hit Good Company and not set foot in Big W or Zara. THE WAVERLEY BREWHOUSE Westfield Carousel It had to happen, a microbrewery in a mega-mall. The rise and rise of craft beer has infiltrated the suburban shopping experience, perhaps a reflection of the many dads’ obsession with double dry-hopped India pale ales. Opened in 2018, the Waverley mostly sticks to brewing lower alcohol ales in Hank the Tank given many customers will head to their cars after enjoying a beer with lunch. That said, this year’s instalment of their Bad Santa beer is a high-ABV hazy. In addition to the 36 taps pouring fresh frothies, the Waverley boasts a popular menu of modern American grub designed by US-import Ryan Ebbs, best known for his time cheffing at Crown Perth’s Merrywell. You’ll need plenty of carbs to navigate WA’s largest shopping centre — Westfield Carousel weighs in at nearly 110,000sqm, slightly bigger than Karrinyup. Owner Brian Godfrey says the footfall in Carousel guarantees a steady stream of customers. After five successful years, he has plans to renovate the Waverley AND open two more pubs in other suburban hubs. Must be working! WHITFORDS BREWING COMPANY Westfield Whitford City This hugely popular two-level pub and microbrewery is part of the Beerland Brewing group that’s also home to Northbridge Brewing Co. Whitfords is far more popular than its sibling, thanks to being in the northern suburban shopping centre rather than the so-called entertainment precinct. It’s also open every day, unlike NBC. Both those facts say a lot. Like the other shopping complex venues, WBC is a relatively large pub with capacity for 750 punters, which gives scope for functions and other events to keep the place purring along. Folks hit WBC for sport on the big screens, modern pub grub and approachable craft beers on tap (and also in the fridges and available for takeaway). Of the five, this place feels the most like a pub. VARSITY WHITFORDS Westfield Whitford City This northern suburbs giant has not one but two decent shopping centre watering holes, thanks to the recent arrival of sports bar and burgers chain Varsity’s eighth WA venue. Like the other American college bar-themed joints, Whitfords has excellent burgers (and other dude food), cold beers and sports on abundant big screens — 28 in total, including the “mega-screen” in the main bar. These bars are undoubtedly a great place to watch the big game — whatever that is — but are also family-friendly. The 800-capacity Whitfords newbie has two outdoor areas, plus a private function space. Definitely get the shopping done first because after a double cheeseburger, buffalo wings and chips, plus a pint, you’ll be more likely to pass out in the Manchester section than get those new sheets. THE SOVEREIGN ARMS Lakeside Joondalup Pubs are supposed to be community hubs and the Sovereign Arms in the northern ‘burbs fulfils that role via karaoke, quizzes and other themed nights, plus wholesome pub grub catering for vegetarians, kids and hungry punters. While the décor is perhaps dated (fair enough, it opened 15 years ago), the 552-capacity pub adjacent to the cinemas on the lake side of the sprawling Joondalup shopping centre boasts two bars and an alfresco area. The Sov also has an extensive, if not wildly experimental, list of beers across 21 taps and wines by the glass, plus dangerously well-priced cocktails. Less a shopping centre pub and more a modern British boozer, the Sovereign Arms reflects its locale. As it should.