The Alliance’s new owners on their plans for a West Hampstead favourite
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Regulars of West Hampstead’s The Alliance can expect an enhancement rather than an overhaul, say its new owners, as they speak of their excitement at taking over the pub.
At the end of a 12 months in which it was relisted as an asset of community value (ACV) and won the Ham&High’s reader’s poll for the best pub of 2021, The Alliance was put up for sale at the end of last year. The news drew dismay from residents who frequented the much-loved boozer.
It has since come under new ownership, with plans for it to reopen in early March.
Loci Pubs, the group behind the recent purchase, is run by brothers Ben and Ed Robson, Adam Gostyn and Scott Soteriou. With The Clifton NW8 in St John’s Wood and Hampstead’s The Duke of Hamilton already under their stewardship, they said that they were keen to add another when The Alliance came up for sale.
“We always kind of have our eye out, and being in the industry you always hear of things coming up, and that one in particular instantly took our interest," said Ben.
“And it was one that we were fortunate enough to move quite quickly on.”
In contrast to their other pubs, which required some work before they could get properly running, The Alliance came pretty much good to go. With an established following and having been well-run by its previous owners, it has not needed the overhaul necessary with The Clifton and The Duke.
Instead, says Adam: “What we will be doing is building on the strong work that he’s (the previous landlord, Michael Keating) done, and enhancing it and getting across a broadly similar offering to our other sites.”
Major amendments do not seem to be on the cards but the group want to bring to The Alliance some of what they believe defines their other pubs, while retaining much of what already makes the place so loved.
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At the heart of this is a desire to, as Adam puts it, “understand the locals”.
"We’re all about the locals, that’s what we’re here for. We survive on repeat business and our regulars. So, you’ve got to listen to what they want, and try and deliver the neighbourhood spot.”
This means avoiding a “cookie-cutter approach”, while, Ben adds, trying to cater to a wide and diverse customer base.
Just as some people may want to come in and read the paper and have a coffee, he says, “other people want a three-course meal and a bottle of wine".
"And I feel like we can cater to all of that. It’s tricky at times, but I think overall we do a good job,” he says.
The initial response from locals seems to have been positive. Adam says in the past week or so, between eight and ten groups of people have walked into The Clifton and The Duke identifying themselves as regulars of The Alliance.
Interest has been shown on Instagram, with the quiz in particular something that commenting regulars seem to be particularly keen to re-boot.
After a couple of years in which few industries have taken a harder beating than hospitality, Ed says that things are starting to feel positive again, and that January reflected a thirst from people to get out.
“I think it could be a really positive year.”
With an opening date currently pencilled in for early March, the group say that the remaining work is primarily cosmetic. Repainting walls, adding some tiling and slightly reconfiguring the bar are a few of the jobs left on their list, though they reckon they should be all done in a couple of weeks.
After all, Ed says, the intention is to "only be enhancing the locals' experience of that pub.
“We hope to make it a better local for everyone. It’s little touches here and there really.”
And the quiz?
Ben confirms that, yes, “the pub quiz will stay”.