Last month we delivered £250 worth of outdoor plants to The Cricketers in Croydon after they won our Plants-for-Pubs competition. We asked our customers and members of the public to nominate an independent pub or restaurant with outdoor space to win the plants to celebrate partial reopening on the 12th April. We were overwhelmed by the love shown for this pub and all the nominations they received, so we went to Croydon to meet the owners AJ and Gianluca to hear their story (while helping them plant up the plants at the front of the pub of course!). The full interview with Aj is below:
- Could you introduce the pub and how you came upon it?
We used to run a smoked BBQ catering business, we would move around doing street food and private catering events. I come from a property management background so was always on the lookout for new properties, and we saw this pub come up and decided it was a great opportunity. We opened in September 2017. We wanted to create a pub that offered something different to the area, and when the BBQ side became no longer viable because of external forces, we changed our food offering.
We now support other independent businesses with residencies of different chefs and pop ups that change every few months and source our fruit and vegetables for our cocktails as locally as possible- at the moment we have a Mikos who serves amazing Gyros and other Greek influenced treats.
- What has the pandemic been like for you? What were you doing last March?
The first lockdown last March was all hands on deck with renovations, and after we reopened we hosted some great pop-ups. During the most recent lockdown we decided we needed to renovate the beer garden, as we knew outdoor space was going to be so important going forward (and luckily it was warmer weather too!). We are also brand new parents so, that has been taking up a lot of focus and time for us – it has been nice being able to spend more time at home and adjust to being parents, as well as spending quality time with the new addition to our family!
- Why did you want/need plants – do you think they are important for your space?
We used to have herbs in our front patio flower beds but they were stolen during lockdown, and then we were reluctant to buy more herbs just for them to be stolen again! We think that plants have a great purpose in life and bring joy to spaces. They are also great for community building for our staff, as they want to look after the plants and take responsibility for them too, with watering and feeding them. Practically, we would use herbs in our cocktails and occasionally some of our own meals too. However, we decided although we will keep growing herbs in our private garden, we really wanted flowers in our front beds to bring a smile to visitors’ faces as they enter the pub.
- You have built a really strong and diverse community around your pub – what are your top tips for building a community in your area?
Being culturally diverse ourselves, we find it means that we often attract culturally diverse talent, but it is also about being welcoming and genuine from the start, to make people both want to work for us and also want to eat and drink what we provide. Once you earn the trust of the community, it is word of mouth and recommendations that really make a difference.
It was our pleasure delivering plants to AJ and Gianluca and seeing this amazing pub in person. We wish them the best of luck with the busy summer season ahead- hopefully we will come and visit soon!
Want to learn more? Check them out on Instagram: @cricketerscroydon.