‘The bartenders on Call Lane all think they’re rock stars’
Social Club looking a little empty these days? It might be something to do with an inconspicuous little bar that’s popped up between a supermarket and a newsagents on Brudenell Grove.
If you live in Hyde Park, you’ll no doubt already have heard about The East Village – the bar’s popularity has been unprecedented since it opened a few weeks ago.
We caught up with owner Oli Pluck to ask him about the trials and tribulations of opening a bar in Hyde Park.
He said: “I wasn’t looking to open a bar. I was actually just looking for warehouse spaces.”
“But I came down to look at the place and fell in love with it. I loved the exposed brickwork and the wooden floors – there are inner-city bars paying a lot of money to look like that.”
“When I first got the place, I didn’t have a lot of money to put into it. I went down to the timberyard and got a load of wood and built the bar myself.”
This DIY attitude sets The East Village apart, and the decor certainly matches the name.
Pluck adds: “East Village in New York was rundown and dirty looking, but when Hilly Kristal opened CBJB, it started to attract all the punks, musicians and artists. Now it’s one of the most expensive places to live.”
“When I first came to look at this place it was July, so there were no students around. All the landlords were throwing out old stuff left behind, so there were things all over the street – sofas, burnt-out bins, bras.”
“I’d watched a film about East Village the night before and it really reminded me of it.”
“So that’s what we’re trying to do – to bring a bit of East Village to Hyde Park.”
Pluck himself is no stranger to the bar scene, having himself been a flair bartender for several years. He was even asked to preside over the bar at the royal wedding as a ‘cocktail consultant’.
The East Village is certainly different to other bars in the area, with some criticising it for its decision not to sell pints. Pluck, however, says that there’s a valid reason behind the decision.
“We didn’t want that same pint drinking mentality as the other pubs and bars around here. We’d rather it not be the sort of place where someone just comes down for a pint of Stella.”
“There’s also a practical reason for selling beer in schooners – it’s actually to keep the beer cold until it’s finished. They’re cheaper than pints, but it stays cold.”
Since opening, the bar has proven particularly popular with students. Pluck says: “I’ve been bowled over by the response”.
“I sort of knew the area before, because I’d played at the Royal Park and the Brudenell Social Club. I phoned a friend asking what the scope was for opening a bar in Hyde Park and he said it was a good idea.”
“The best advice my friend gave me was don’t underestimate students. You guys don’t just want to drink cheap beer.”
“I prefer the area because it’s more personal, so you get to know the locals. You go down to Call Lane and all the bartenders there think they’re rock stars.”
Plans for the future include a basement renovation for music and art exhibitions, an outdoor terrace area and all-day bottomless coffee and free wifi, as well as earlier opening hours.
“I wake up some mornings and think “What have I started?”, but I can’t deny it’s really exciting.”