Work began this week on a £360,000 refurbishment project to bring The Alma Tavern on Lower Addiscombe Road back into business for the New Year.
The Alma has been closed since the first covid lockdown in March 2020, but Heineken UK-owned Star Pubs and Bars plan to reopen the Addiscombe boozer as “a top-quality family-friendly neighbourhood local”.
The Alma will have a new licensee, too, and once the refurb is complete, it will create between eight and 10 jobs.
Local real ale enthusiasts CAMRA describe The Alma as a “substantial corner pub with three-storeys of London brick, built in 1864… It retains an impressive late Victorian island bar complete with publican’s office but it has lost all but a few vestiges of the partitions that divided it into multiple spaces.
“The island bar has pilasters running all around it… The little-altered island bar back is topped off with a clock within a broken pediment. Within it the original office remains, one of [only] 20 left in the country.”
According to the pub’s owners, “Funds are being spent on a complete upgrade of the interior and exterior of The Alma Tavern to give it a more modern relaxed look and feel.”
There are other adaptations being undertaken to get the reopened Alma set up for the covid new normal: “Outside spacious beer gardens are being created at the front and back of the pub ideal for alfresco drinking and dining during the warmer months.”
Inside, they say the layout is “being reconfigured” to increase space, with the pub undergoing redecoration with new flooring, wallpaper and “atmospheric designer lighting in keeping with the modern design”.
The pub is also being equipped with the sort of TV screens which aim to pull in the punters when showing live sports events.
“A new commercial kitchen is also being installed allowing the pub to offer affordable good quality pub classics… There will also be a children’s menu with special kid-sized cutlery and crockery.”
The pub will serve Heineken, as you might expect, as well as Brixton beers and Beavertown, alongside a selection of craft ales, draught cider, wines and spirits.
There’s ambitions to stage some live music, and hopes to establish local teams to use the darts board and pool table.
New landlord Wayne Marshall has more than five years’ industry experience, most recently as assistant manager of a pub in Liverpool Street. He previously worked in the legal profession.
“I am looking forward to moving to East Croydon and getting to know the community and can’t wait to open the doors and show everyone their new-look local,” Marshall said.
“The Alma Tavern has loads of potential and the refurbishment plans are fantastic. They will give it a new lease of life. I want The Alma Tavern to be the premier drinking establishment in East Croydon and a focal point of the community welcoming people of all ages and nationalities.”
Star Pubs and Bars cite the volume of housing being built in the area as creating “a real demand for great pubs in East Croydon”.
Luke Cherrington, the company’s business development manager, said, “We’re delighted to be joining forces with Wayne to return The Alma Tavern to the heart of the community.
“With his passion, high standards and attention to detail driving the pub forward, The Alma Tavern will become a great meeting place for the community as a whole.”
The company, which leases its 2,500 pubs to small businesses and entrepreneurs, says that The Alma Tavern is part of a £38million investment in more than 700 pubs this year.
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