The Old Nun's Head, Nunhead

The Old Nun’s Head
15 Nunhead Green
SE15 3QQ
0207 639 4007

The Old Nun's Head pub in Nunhead has new owners. We asked Daniel Rowntree to tell us about what he has in store for it.

Please tell us about the pub as it is today and your plans for it in the future?

Our company is called As It Should Be Ltd, and we have vision for how a local pub really should be that takes old fashioned community values combined with a healthy slice of marketing, and a huge slice of customer service. We like to think of our pub as an inclusive member, every time you come and see us we give you another reason to come back.

For the first couple of months we have focused on getting the basics, so the food the decor and the service. The second stage is events, the garden and opening in the day which we will be doing from Monday 19th April.

I am from Lincolnshire where pubs play a very different part in the community, they really are a home from home and we have brought that feel to the Nun’s. There are 4 distinct areas, the lounge, the dining room, the bar and the library which is a perfect place for home workers to take a break with free WIFI a specialist lunch menu, tea, cakes and coffee.

What will the balance between booze and food be like?

Our head chef Gary Smith is also the head chef at The Flask in Highgate he has brought a rustic, wholesome, and predominantly English menu to The Nun’s. Where possible our suppliers are local: Sopers fish, Ayres bread and William Rose butchers and of course sausages from Lincolnshire supplied by an old school friend that now has a stall at Borough Market, The Boston Sausage.

The kitchen is not yet at capacity so the aim is become slightly more food led than we are at the moment, rotating dishes on a regular basis. Special mention should go to our Toad in the Hold which is fast becoming our signature dish. We are in the process of choosing the house sausage we have another tasting 26.04.10 with the final being held 11.06.10. To have your say, book a table!

We have also underestimated the demand for vegetarian food so will be addressing the balance in the menu to be closer to 50/50, so watch this space.

Will you offer drinkers any particular specialities?

We want to keep people interested and also offer variety. We have 4 cask ale pumps are a member of the finest cask scheme, up next is Frosty Piddle! Our house ales at the moment rotate between Adnams, Batemans XB, Timothy Taylor and Deuchars IPA. We have 9 lagers and a healthy wine list, we are holding a wine tasting this Thursday 22.04.10 so again if you want your say pop down.

I plan to use our suppliers productively so holding rum, gin, vodka, brandy, whisky and cocktail sessions to educate locals and encourage them to try different things with confidence.

We also have a free drink offer on at the moment all you have to do is go to our website and join The Habit, this is our members database which I will email once a week.

How big a part will live events play in the pub's life?

Eventually a huge part, we have an awesome function room upstairs with its own bar, pa system and toilets, capacity for 90 standing and roughly 50 seated. It really annoys me when it is not being used!

From April 27th, we have salsa on a Tuesday night every Wednesday we have the extremely popular Easycome acoustic folk night hosted by local legend Andy Hank Dog, from Thursday April 29th we start our comedy club Gut Rocking which we have poached from the EDT, Friday will be live music and Saturdays are for private hire. Watch this space for Jive classes, Northern Soul nights and Spoken Word events. Oh and I forgot to mention our quiz that is held the first Sunday of every month!

On the 24th, we have Alex Cornish playing his new album live and on the 30th we see Maverick Sabre take to the stage supported by Aloosh a rare treat from this spectacular young talent currently supporting Plan B on his latest UK tour check ticket web for availability they are selling out fast.

Is it tough having the pubs of East Dulwich on your doorstep as competition?

Not the way that I see it. We are Nunhead and offer something completely different we are a local pub in what genuinely feels like a village environment, there is not one chain (apart from the inevitable bookies!) on Nunhead High Street. We also feel our sphere of influence is really the other side - so Queens Road Peckham, Brockley, Telegraph Hill and New Cross.

It seems like a lot of pubs in the area are raising their game - what do you think is prompting this?

The usual government legislation, people becoming for drink aware, prices in the supermarket, television and home entertainment. Gone are the days of opening the doors and hoping people will come in, consumers are fickle and the choice especially in London is vast you really have to work hard to attract and then keep customers. We aim to involve locals in their local pub, we welcome feedback and are fully aware we can’t keep everyone 100% happy 100% of the time.

For some people in West Brockley, Nunhead is their local drinking option. Do you have a sense of how many of your customers come from over the border?

I have been talking to a lot people over the past couple of months and to be honest a lot more than I thought. I used to live on Wavaney Av just off Peckham Rye Park and work on Brockley Road so I know how close it is, my aim is to tease a few more people over the bridge to sample the delights of the Old Nun’s Head. So watch out for posters, flyers through your door and always check facebook because that gives the most up to date info.

There's been a lot of discussion of whether Brockley is "on the up" as a result of the East London Line. Do you think Nunhead is changing?

South East London is on the up, Nunhead is somewhere people turn to when they sell their one bed in SE22 or Clapham, I have lived in the area for the last 4 years and have noticed a small change but to be honest we just need to focus on getting our product right and hopefully people will travel, there is no doubt we are a destination venue.

Click here for an interview with the manager of the Royal Albert.

With thanks to Moira for the prompt.