One block, a great pub on each corner. And it just didn’t feel right when The Welly was closed. It felt like a car with one wheel missing. But now the wheel is back on
We think it’s the perfect time, yeah absolutely the perfect time. I mean, we’ve got a perfect storm of people who’ve really understood what they’ve missed over the last year, what everyone’s really missed. The people interaction, the community. There’s been community spirit, but there’s been a lack of opportunities to engage”.
The Whistler is talking to Paul and Gabby Wimhurst, the people behind the re-opening of The Duke of Wellington – The Welly – and we asked the inevitable question about the risk of opening up during the lockdown. And Paul’s on a roll.
“So I think this is the perfect time because obviously, pubs can play a part in that wider community engagement. So as things wake up, this is how we see it, as people start to shake their heads a little bit and wake up, it’s a great time to be opening a pub that’s been closed for a year and a bit. Yeah. So yeah, we think it’s good.”
Paul and Gabby have been “running pubs now for about three years up in Soho. Mainly that was The Red Lion in Kingly Street, and we also had The Lyceum on the Strand for a while, so that was our time running pubs, but we’ve spent a fair bit of time in pubs”
Gabby was born in Mouslecoomb “but spent most of my time in and around central Brighton, so we were always knew that we were going to come back to the south coast.
“We heard about this during lockdown – that was just after Bertie, the previous landlord, decided to move on – and once we knew there was an opportunity here, we grabbed it with both hands. Couldn’t wait to get back. All our friends are round here. It felt really isolating being in London, especially during lockdown.”
Round here, if you like pubs this is a good place to be. “Yeah, that’s something that we can’t wait to become part of, the pub community. We’ve already made contact with everybody. The thing is, they’re all good pubs and we’re not going to try to compete. For instance, we’re not going to do a food offer, and that’s probably been driven by the fact that the others do such good food. So rather than try and compete, we’re viewing it that we want to complement the pubs around the block, you know.”
And so what is your sell? What’s your USP? “We’re hopefully just going to build on what it’s always been – a great pub for watching sport and taking part in team sport. We’ve also got a great garden which we’ve made a bit more comfortable and spent some money on it. We’ve got the function room upstairs as well, and hopefully (mini theatre) Sweet will be back later in the year, so we’ve got the opportunity to… not change the way it feels, but enhance it and maybe just broaden its appeal a little bit.
“I think we’ve recruited a super team, that’s something that we’re really excited about. We’ve got four people who we think are really unique in their own way and they’ve all got something really, really great to add. So we’re hoping that it’s the personalities and the people that people are going to come in for.”