Archway pub crowdfunds to serve food to meet lockdown restrictions

Amber Knight with Charlotte Despard pub cat Legs. 

Amber Knight with Charlotte Despard pub cat Legs. - Credit: Amber Knight

An Islington pub is raising money to adapt to new coronavirus restrictions and secure its survival past the pandemic. 

The Charlotte Despard, in Archway, was a wet-led pub prior to the pandemic, meaning it could not serve food.

After meeting its initial £15,000 crowdfunding target, it is planning to reopen on Tuesday (December 15) with a food menu so it can offer substantial meals and welcome back customers under lockdown guidelines. 

Amber Knight, who has owned the pub with Chris Sparks for 11 years, said they set up the crowdfunder because “we sunk basically everything we had, the small business grant that we got in April, any savings, what we were going to spend on refurbishing the outside of the pub". 

"We just got to the point where there was nothing left,” she said.

The Charlotte Despard pub.

The Charlotte Despard pub. - Credit: Charlotte Despard

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The pub hopes to meet the crowdfunder’s stretch target, £25,000, to create an outside seating area and refurbish its outside. It plans to use the colours of the Women’s Suffrage movement, of which Charlotte Despard was a member, for the new exterior.  

Amber hopes the extra funds will maximise the pub’s chances of long-term survival. Although things picked up when the pub reopened on 5 July, she said this did not last long as the curfew and ban on household mixing were introduced, then the second lockdown. She said they are now hoping to reopen in the next few days.  

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She said they were “blown away” by the support the pub has received so far, with most of the donations coming from locals, alongside “regulars from years ago, people who live abroad, members of staff who worked for us when they were at university”. 

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Amber said: “Since Covid, obviously we’ve got reduced capacity, but we know everybody here and everyone plays by the rules, we know who’s in bubbles with who. They like the fact that we’re doing things properly and they, in turn, do things properly.

“We’ve been really hot on doing things correctly, and I think most small indies have because it’s your everything.”
The pub has raised over £16,000 so far, with the crowdfunder closing in under two weeks.

You can donate here:

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