An establishment that had been through various incarnations in recent years, without attracting a sustainable customer base. Too far from New Cross for passing trade and too close to New Cross to enjoy a captive market. The Old Haberdasher - an adequate sort of place - was perennially empty.
Then, with little fanfare, The Fat Walrus opened last week and showed what difference a good team can make.
I tried it out for the first time last night. On a Tuesday night in Dry January it was packed.
The new pub, run by the team that re-energised the New Cross House, is clearly pitching itself to a clientèle that's a decade or two younger than the Old Haberdashers' target customer: The décor's been stripped back, with bare brick walls and naked light bulbs; the space is primarily given over to booths that suit small groups, to create a more urgent atmosphere; the beer is fairly hipster friendly and the menu favours people who want to eat with their hands.
But their crowning achievement is the toilets, which no longer smell nasty. That ought to suit everyone.
Looking out at their back garden, which is not yet finished, I could see the top of Goldsmiths' Richard Hoggart Building. Suddenly, the walk up the hill from New Cross doesn't seem so far after all.
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