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A tenancy at a pub in Higham Hill, one of the quieter parts of Walthamstow, became available during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doubts about taking on a pub at a time of such uncertainty may have been understandable, but for Jaega Wise, who is also a director at the nearby Wild Card Brewery, it was a risk worth taking.
The last tenant left just as the first lockdown was announced. We knew the landlord of the pub well as we had worked with him in the past. We’d heard it was going and agreed to take it on.
It’s a pub with a lot of history, dating back to the 1800s, with a lovely standing bar. But I also think there’s a really great opportunity in the location. Higham Hill is a lovely part of Walthamstow, but it has a bit of a limited high street and night-time offer right now. That will change and we want to provide somewhere where people can go for a drink on Friday or Saturday night, but also a nice place to have lunch or a coffee.
Well, obviously, we’ve had to follow the same rules as everyone. We’re operating a sit-down open-air restaurant, so that does create challenges. People currently have to leave at 10pm on a weekend night, so that feels a bit strange. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon.
It’s a traditional pub catering for a range of people. We source all food and drink and everything else locally. The beer is produced by local brewers, we source our coffee from Wood Street Coffee nearby.
We have amazing local chefs, Oishi Don, who do incredible Japanese food such as donburi, pork bowls and a katsu curry. They are putting on different food for different nights, as well as a traditional Sunday roast. We met them as they had a presence at the local markets in Walthamstow.
We’re aiming for a really broad appeal. There are the older boys who have been coming to the pub for years, so it’s important to us that they feel welcome. A couple of them have been coming in for the food, which they seem to be enjoying.
I should say that one of the old bar staff who used to work at the pub before is coming back. We’re pleased to be able to retain the services of people who used to work here.
We try and cater for as many people as possible. We offer gluten-free beers, brilliant locally produced coffee and a really broad menu.
I always say a hallmark of a good pub is that everyone is welcome and that’s definitely the philosophy behind what we’re trying to do.
It’s a changing part of town. There’s a lot of support and everyone seems excited to find out what we’re about. I lived in Higham Hill for a number of years above a laundrette and still get my hair cut there, so I know it well. It’s a nice part of Walthamstow!
It supports local jobs and keeps money in the local economy.