Because sipping a cold one on the waterfront steps is back, if you know where to look
Simon Brown was the first operator in Coal Drops Yard’s Lower Stable Street to reopen his shop, at the end of May. Trade can’t exactly be described as brisk just yet, for obvious reasons, but House of Cans’ focus – chilled beers that can be enjoyed in the squares and gardens nearby, despite their micro-bar being closed – is potentially an ideal offer for the unique summer that lies ahead.
How has COVID affected your business?
“We closed the shop, as it felt like the responsible thing to do, particularly as I live in Sussex and travelling didn’t seem right. I had a load of stock transferred to my spare bedroom and we tried a bit of online trading, but we struggled to compete with the breweries selling direct as we just couldn’t do it for the same price.”
What’s your current offering?
“I wanted to get back in early as a statement of intent and to reintroduce some normal, really. I felt a responsibility to re-engage and remind myself what the place looks like. At first I did have to wonder what on earth I was doing, but you’ve gotta start somewhere. Doing six days a week from midday to seven is probably excessive, but we want to be available to people. If we have a decent sunny day, like we just had at the weekend, that vindicates it all. The bar has always been modular, so we’ve arranged it not to let people in the shop. We’ve put up perspex screens that are branded, so we retain our appearances while providing reassurance. The offer is take-away only, and hopefully soon there will be some tables back in the street in front. Ours is a very flexible model, and it’s still early days.”
What have been your greatest concerns?
“Obviously many people are really struggling right now, and I really feel for them. We’d had such a strong start to the year, the sad thing for us was basically not being able to continue that. We’ll come out ok though, which is reassuring, especially if there’s some nice weather in the weeks ahead.
What’s made you feel optimistic?
“I’m really looking forward to people being thrilled to be back. I think the whole thing will have caused people to think, not only about how they shop, but about how we all operate. Maybe we’ll retain some of the changes we had to make. There’s certainly a window to open up in a way that makes better sense for all.”
Who would you like to collaborate with?
“Our concept is founded on collaborations anyway. Working with producers on limited edition drinks and can designs is our underlying ethos. Hopefully this spirit will increase the opportunities top do the same with other types of businesses too.”
Since every £ spent now is a political decision to choose to keep money circulating locally, what better way to do the right thing than enjoying a cold IPA? King’s Cross has plenty of outdoor space to meet friends at a responsible distance, and you can stock up on cans for home too, of course. Cheers!
The COVID-19 health crisis has burned our economic and cultural landscape much like a forest fire. But across a charred, razed environment, strong green shoots inevitably emerge.
CAMDENIST is a new collaborative local media platform, currently in beta mode and launching soon. Born from the smoldering ashes of this unprecedented era, it will provide fertile support for the regeneration of our communities, businesses and cultural spaces in the times ahead.
Worth following, too.