According to the Lost Pubs Project, in the UK pubs are currently closing at an accelerating rate of 50 each week. While there's been a fair amount of froth around parliament (eg), acknowledging the implications and condemning the tied pub model, there doesn't seem to have been much to challenge the trend.
Apparently something similar has been happening in Chicago. This article suggests the problem is mainly down to the sheer bureaucratic awkwardness of getting a license. One commentator complains:
"Getting a new tavern license issued in a residential neighborhood is brutal. It's virtually impossible."
The problem sweetly illustrates the extent to which social value, publicness and local economies are intertwined. Perhaps policy makers everywhere could appreciate and value the role of pubs in stimulating local social capital, as well as their role in the local economy. Here's a start: Scott Martin who owns Simon's Tavern in Andersonville, Chicago, says that when he bought the place 17 years ago, he found a shoebox containing $80,000 in IOUs.
More on local pubs
Why pubs need the CIA