The underground site below Clapham Common tube station has been converted into a 40-seater bar, with an outdoor courtyard that can seat 50 more. The site is a new project by locals Andy Bell and Jayke Mangion, who wanted to create a relaxed and intimate space as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy area, while making the most of the unusual venue.
BigHospitality spoke to Mangion about the concept and how the two of them managed to bring the space together.
The WC venue has been two years in the making, with its owners undertaking a great deal of work to convert it from a unused convenience into a bar.
Mangion said: “There were a lot of issues with converting the site because it’s over 100 years old. It wasn’t on the land registry, there was lots of red tape and nothing happened instantly. It felt like it took forever to even be able to fathom the idea of opening it as something.
“It’s taken two and a half years, but we’ve got all the legal issues settled in the past few months and we’ve been able to get in there and do some work. As you can imagine we walked into a bit of a disaster, the place was an absolute mess, it’s been a squat for a number of years. We’ve spent the last four months turning it around.”
The owners have tried to maintain as many of the original features of the building as possible, such as the original tube tiling and 100-year-old mosaic floors. The venue still has the old pavement ceiling lights which keep it well lit, and the mahogany design of the old attendance office has been kept as a main feature of the bar. The mahogany partition walls which formed the cubicles have also been kept and extended to create booth seating.
“You can see people walking back and forth outside which is quite cool,” explained Mangion. “We tried to keep as much as possible, which was quite hard because it’s so old. We kept a lot of the rough spots on the walls because that’s desirable at the moment, and everything has come together and it works really well.”
There is also a display of old love letters in the bathrooms which were found behind the old partition walls.
Wine & Charcuterie
WC has a launch wine list of 12 red and 12 white varieties, all available by glass and half bottle. The owners intend to change this often, and also have a range of sparkling wines and rosé. There are some premium spirits on offer as well as a cocktail list which will also be available by the carafe.
The site also has a charcuterie offering, with cut to order charcuterie and six or seven choices of cheese, a terrine of the day and parfait.
“The wine lists are going to be interesting enough that a wine specialist could come in and find something to their liking, and it’s the same with the cheese,” explained Mangion. “But we want to make the venue very approachable and not pretentious in any way, we want to be open to everyone.
“A number of things are unique about the bar; it’s 100 years old, it’s next door to a tube station on an island between two roads, no one else is really doing this in the Clapham area, we’ve got a huge outside area and it’s owner operated on the high street, which is rare. We think it’ll appeal well to the demographic of the area.”
Wine & Charcuterie is located underneath Clapham Common tube station and opens in early July.