Met with open arms, a red carpet with tic-a-tape pouring from the ceiling*, SNTB entered our latest addition to the area – The Portland Arms. (* Artistic licence used, didn’t actually happen)
Ali (landlord) introduced me to the keen eager bar staff, Luke and Leeward and then soon all realised that they had made a mistake inviting us in and all began to look busy when I began to rant about how we despise business’ that are only interested in profit, abuse community loyalty and basically pretend they are in Dulwich or Crystal Palace. Looking up, expecting the red faces and the usual apologetic drivel about quality, and teardrops from a silkworm riding goat cost money, I WAS FUCKING SHOCKED.
(From front to back – Luke, Leeward & Ali)
Ali explained that they only own one other pub, saw the potential in the location but understands the area and the importance of offering a service that the community actually want to use. He continued to say they are getting on their feet but are completely open to any feasible ideas that will meet varying needs. Including my request not to be served cider in a chalice!
I asked about prices, and he has said that they are trying to be as cheap but fair a price as possible, making there margins minimal with the hope that the quantity of business will offset any need to increase prices in order not to go under – it was an quiet acknowledgement that they know times can be difficult but don’t want to exclude any part of the community. Families, football, fantasy and frolicking (I love alliteration) are all welcome as long as it doesn’t encroach on other people’s enjoyment etc.
The crux of their ethos is – they are open to become whatever type of pub the community require, as long as it is INCLUSIVE and reflects positively on them and the area. However, lets not forget they are a business and if no-one goes, they will either close or become the type of pub that calls our community ‘Riff Raff’ or ‘wants to keep out the undesirables’!
(my new friend Ike – thanks for your company)
After chatting with the new faces in our area (although Leeward is born and bred SN), I sat at the bar to watch Palace destroy Chelsea (* Artistic licence used, didn’t actually happen) and met Ike who i continued to chat to for the next two hours (sorry if your head hurts Ike), then in a flash someone came in looking the pub up and down, stopped, looked at me and said ‘Aw it’s one of those yuppie places’, to which I replied ‘Fuck off, I’m born and bred working class but because I have blue hair and look different you’re calling me a yuppie – you can fuck off and how dare you judge me’ – he apologised and left and I continued my non judgemental conversation with Ike.
Did I mention the food is fantastic with an open kitchen!
If you want a 1950’s traditional blokes boozer, where beaten women cower over their halves of beer or waiting at home in anticipation of feeding the breadwinner – this is not it
If you want a modern pub, with kitsch decor trying to be trendy, expensive prices to ensure that only those with a decent credit rating can enter to drink Moldavian asp’s piss and eat a peruvian style curried unicorn hoof – this is not it
Could it be Henry the mild mannered janitor………. could be………….
If you want a place to drink, that is 100% community minded, has a wide selection of beverages, well cooked food and non judgemental staff who work hard but also have time to chat, and everyone I’ve met is worth chatting to and doesn’t want to be any of the above (except maybe Hong Long Phooey because who doesn’t want to be!) then it has arrived:
It is called the Portland Arms and is ready and waiting to bring a smile to your face.
The saying goes – Use it or lose it – but remember it is rare for businesses wanting to embody the whole of South Norwood’s community as it is.