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29 January 2020

A £500,000 refurbishment of the historic New Rose on Essex Road in Islington is underway to update it into a quality, contemporary pub.

The revamp is being undertaken by new licensee Lucas Owen and the building’s owners, Star Pubs & Bars. In line with the wishes of regulars and the local community, whilst good food will be introduced, the venue will remain a proper pub with a spacious welcoming bar where people can gather for drinks and to socialise.

The last two years has seen the New Rose run by a succession of temporary operators and closed for seven months. To mark its new start in stable hands, the New Rose will be renamed The Alpaca; an animal renowned for its strong individual personality and which thrives on the companionship of friends and community.

Work is expected to take eight weeks with the pub scheduled to reopen in early March, creating 20 new jobs.

The investment will carefully renovate the building’s exterior, restoring its distinctive green tiling, repainting and adding new signage and lighting to make the pub an attractive feature of Essex Road. Further plans include converting a disused back yard into a leafy courtyard.

The project will give the pub a stunning new look inside but keep all its character and charm. Original paneling, open fires and brickwork will be retained and wooden floors will be exposed. Decorations and furniture will come from London’s markets and second-hand shops and will feature alongside one-off pieces by London artists to give an eclectic feel.

A new kitchen will enable Lucas to introduce freshly prepared food. Made to order, the menu will cater for all occasions from light lunches to celebration dinners and use ingredients from local suppliers such as Steve Hatt fishmongers, which is just next door. Lucas wants to build the pub’s credentials for good beer and will extend the range to include more craft, cask and London-brewed beers. To ensure consistently excellent beer, the cellar will receive a complete upgrade and new state-of-the-art dispense equipment.

Lucas is keen for the pub to be a hub of local life. To that end it will host a programme of interesting events including comedy quizzes, music and food nights as well as fundraisers for local charities. With a shortage of event space in Islington, Lucas hopes to create a first floor function room and open it up for meetings of local groups, classes and functions.

Lucas has15 year’s experience of running top pubs around London and The Alpaca is his first pub of his own. Says Lucas: “The area has lost a number of its pubs in recent years and there’s been concern that the New Rose would become a chain bar or even close altogether. My aim is to restore it as a great local. It’s a beautiful old pub but had lost its way; I want to bring it back to life and into the 21st century as a modern pub that is an asset to Islington. It will be independently operated so will maintain Essex Road’s reputation for having a great choice of independent businesses and shops.”

Comments Will Rice, Star Pubs & Bars operations director for London: “Lucas is a highly experienced licensee with an excellent track record for operating popular London pubs. We’re delighted to be able to support him in reviving the New Rose’s fortunes so that it thrives as a fantastic local pub.”

The New Rose is believed to date back to the early 1800’s. It has had a number of different names over the years. It was called the New Rose after a track by The Damned and was previously The Half Moon.