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Entrepreneur plans to turn East Dulwich pub into London's first self-sustaining community gastropub

By Emma Eversham , 27-Mar-2013
Last updated the 27-Mar-2013 at 16:38 GMT

Related topics: Business, Venues, People, Restaurants, Pubs & Bars

An entrepreneur in south London has turned to crowdfunding website Kickstarter to help raise funds to set up London's first self-sustaining community gastropub. 

The Magnolia pub on Lordship Lane in Dulwich is set to break boundaries in sustainability when it opens later this year

The Magnolia pub on Lordship Lane in Dulwich is set to break boundaries in sustainability when it opens later this year

Arnold Reicher is hoping to raise £17k via a pitch on the website to help re-open the former Magnolia pub on Lordship Lane in East Dulwich next month as The Patch, a community-led pub where customers will be served food that has been grown on-site or sourced from within a 15 mile radius. 

Reicher, who has bought the leasehold of the pub from Enterprise Inns, told BigHospitality he also wanted the pub to be a place where local food producers and artists could work from or use to promote and sell their produce. 

"I've always loved pubs and restaurants and have lived in this area for 18 years during which time I've got to know the people here. There are lots of talented people around here, a lot of them within food, and I thought it would be a great place to bring those local talents together while providing somewhere for people to go," he said. "I didn't want it to be left as another old boozer." 

Self-sustaining

The Patch aims to use vertical growing technology, like this from Sunstate Organics in Florida, to grow its vegetables on-site.

Reicher, who has brought in Momo Leisure's David Elphick to run the pub's kitchen and Charlie Grisel to manage the pub, will source fruit and vegetables from local suppliers while the pub's own 'farm' is established.

The pub's roof terrace and also parts of the outside seating area will be turned into growing areas with Reicher investing in the latest vertical horticultural technology from Sunstate Organics in Florida to grow 50 per cent of the pub's fresh produce.

"My inspiration from this comes from more country house type places like The Pig in the New Forest," he said. "They have space for a proper kitchen garden, we don't, but I didn't want that to put me off, so I looked into using the latest technology to maximise the space we do have." 

Where possible, meat will be sourced from within 15 miles of the pub, but, Reicher said if it was not available or good enough, the boundary would be widened.

"We can find ways to minimise the carbon footprint, but quality will be the first thing we focus on," he said. 

Drinks too will have a local edge. While the Enterprise tie means the majority of drinks will be supplied through the pub company, Reicher said he would be looking to extend the local link by sourcing 25 per cent of the beer from local microbreweries.  

Community support

Once established, Reicher said he hoped to turn a barn situated on the site of the pub, into a hub for local food producers, such as bakers and chocolatiers. 

"Our first priority is to raise the money and make sure we have everything we need to buy the technology needed and get the pub up to the right standard to start trading again," he said. "We have had a lot of interest locally and I think we have the ability to turn this into a real community hub. 

"If this concept works it would be good to replicate it across London, although is something that could only be done with community involvement." 

Find out more about plans for The Patch and how to support its funding on the Kickstarter page.

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