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News Just In: A new start for landmark Lewes pub

On 21 Sep 2009 at 12:08pm The Webmaster wrote:
The Snowdrop Inn on South St, Lewes, has been purchased by local publicans, Dominic McCartan and Tony Leonard, from Punch Taverns. The purchase has been partially financed by RBS in a deal brokered by AFC Finance Ltd through the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The couple currently run The Hop Poles and The Eagle in Brighton but The Snowdrop is their first freehouse.

The Snowdrop Inn has an important place in Lewes history. It was built in 1840, on the site of the worst ever avalanche in British history and named, not after the flower, but to commemorate the tragedy which flattened seven cottages and claimed eight lives at Christmas 1836. Fifteen people in all, were buried alive but seven of them, including a two-year-old girl, were rescued by the brave and determined efforts of their neighbours.

The pub, once regarded as one of the best in Lewes, has had a chequered history in recent years. Through the nineties and early noughties, The Snowdrop was famous, thanks to the efforts of then owners, Sue and Tim May, as an award-winning freehouse, known locally and further afield for its innovative food, live music, bohemian attitude and ever-changing eclectic decor. After it was purchased by Punch Taverns in 2003, much of what made The Snowdrop so unique was jettisoned and the pubs reputation spiralled downwards as a succession of licensees and temporary managers were unable to halt the decline.

Chef, Dominic McCartan trained under Darina and Rachel Allen at Ballymalloe Cookery School in Ireland where he learned the importance of good quality seasonal ingredients. Hes also added butchery skills to his repertoire at Netherfield Centre for Sustainable Food & Farming, which enables him to buy whole carcasses from local farmers and make full use of every bit of the animal (although he stresses that as a former vegetarian himself, he has some wonderful meat-free dishes as well).

Tony Leonard will be responsible for the bar side of the operation. The couple are both strongly committed to sourcing the best local and seasonal food and drink in the region; together they published the popular local food magazine, Eat Sussex, until earlier this year. Suppliers already lined up include Harveys (of course), Dark Star and Meantime Brewery for beer, Middle Farm for cider, Plantation Pigs and South Downs lamb, Brookland White free-range chickens, Holmansbridge Farm eggs and sausages, Downsview ice cream, milk and cream, High Weald Dairy for award-winning Sussex cheeses, vegetables and sustainably caught fish from Fin and Farm and artisan bread and pastries from Lighthouse Bakery. They also plan to buy surplus produce from neighbourhood allotmenteers and gardeners with local currency, the Lewes Pound.

Dominic McCartan said: Despite all the lows, people in Lewes have a great affection for The Snowdrop and really want to see her succeed again. Since we first looked into it and started asking peoples opinions, what really stood out is the huge well of goodwill there still is towards the place. She had an important role in the community here and people do miss her and genuinely seem to want her back."

Tony Leonard said: Lewes is home to some wonderful pubs; some of the very best in the South East. Were going to do everything we possibly can to put The Snowdrop back where she belongs, up there amongst them.
The pub is currently closed for much needed kitchen and cellar work and will reopen at 7pm Monday September 28th September.
On 21 Sep 2009 at 12:28pm Smiler wrote:
Hoorah!, the Snowdrops back.
I'll be there next Monday night, is there free beer?
On 21 Sep 2009 at 1:22pm MC wrote:
I used to love the Snowdrop when the Mays ran it. I like Brighton's Hop Poles too so am quite optimistic about the future of the Snowdrop. The Hop Poles has very good food, there's lots of it and it's well priced (i.e. cheap).
The only problem with the Hop Poles is that the music is often too loud making easy relaxed conversation inside all but impossible.
On 21 Sep 2009 at 1:34pm Screaming H wrote:
Will they be bringing back the alternative Miss World competition?
On 21 Sep 2009 at 3:03pm Toque wrote:
Excellent news, good luck to Dominic and Tony. A decent pub quiz and the return of drinkable real ale to the Snowdrop would be a good start.
On 21 Sep 2009 at 7:24pm Rozzer wrote:
Looking forward to it.
On 21 Sep 2009 at 11:20pm Spinster Of This Parish wrote:
I may potter up to be nosey (and wish them good luck in person)!
On 22 Sep 2009 at 9:52am Mystic Mog wrote:
Great shame it is not solely veggie. Opportunity missed.
However I wish them luck.
On 22 Sep 2009 at 9:58am Thou Shalt Not wrote:
eat excessive flatulent foods
On 22 Sep 2009 at 1:05pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I think not going veggie is a good move in business terms. I think we omnivores still outnumber the veggies, and many of us think a meal without meat leaves a lot to be desired. I doubt if there's enough veggie trade to sustain a pub in the current climate. When pubs and restaurants are struggling, they need to go for the biggest market they can, not put off sections of it.
As long as there are decent vegetarian/vegan choices (and I'm sure there will be), surely that will satisfy the herbivores?
On 22 Sep 2009 at 6:09pm Mystic Mog wrote:
You are welcome to your opinion regarding vegetarian/vegan. However your business argument makes littles sense. The pub has gone downhill since it ceased being vegetarian/vegan, it has to one of the reasons for its recent downfall.
If the food, beer, price and ambience are good then the lack of meat will not put off many people.....as demonstrated by Tim & Sue.
We need an innovative, exciting and inexpensive Snowdrop. Another expensive gastopub with pretentions may find it hard to survive in this economic climate, especially when said pub is at the wrong end of a cul-de sac with poor parking. Also quality veggie food is often cheaper to make than quality high meat content based food.
On 22 Sep 2009 at 6:21pm Onlooker wrote:
I only ever ate the pizzas at the Snowdrop.It wasn't the food so much for me. I went there because when Tim and Sue ran it it was a lovely pub to go to with a great atmosphere. I'm not sure what would work food wise...Bit of everything,not too expensive and get the pizzas on again.
On 22 Sep 2009 at 6:22pm Spongebob wrote:
It might be cheaper to make Mystic but they still charge double the price because of all the lar-de-dar liberals think it's en vogue.
You need to get a bit of meat inside you Mystic
On 22 Sep 2009 at 7:25pm bumpkin wrote:
I hope they do a better job than the new people at the Trevor in Glynde. Apparently they have aliienated half the village already
On 22 Sep 2009 at 9:02pm Mystic Mog wrote:
Obviously you did eat there when Tim & Sue ran it Spongey, it was high quality and very good value, just like their shop. Veggie does not automatically equate to your blinkered view on people, politics, nor does it mean expensive. You need to get out more and get that chip on that shoulder seen to.
On 22 Sep 2009 at 9:03pm Mystic Mog wrote:
Please insert 'not' between 'you' and 'did' in the first sentence of the last post.
On 22 Sep 2009 at 9:53pm eh? wrote:
Since Spongeblob was so keen to wrongly try and correct the spelling of 'get' i should point out that it is not 'lar-de-dar' and it sounds to me that if anyone needs some meat inside them it is our dried out old spongblob.
On 22 Sep 2009 at 11:34pm Spinster Of This Parish wrote:
Spongebob - chip on shoulder? That will make you very popular with the veggies!
On 23 Sep 2009 at 6:36am Spongebob wrote:
Eh, I suppose i'm a member of the BNP now for saying that.
On 23 Sep 2009 at 8:27am me wrote:
I remember quite clearly being charged a pound for a flat glass of happy shopper lemonade, poured out of a bottle in front of me. Said bottle was emblazaned with the retail price for the whole bottle (69p). Also served with no ice.
Also, like all free houses, they paid about 20 to 30 percent less for there lagers and bitters but charge the same or more for the punters to but in.
I loved the Snowdriop, but I think some people are looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses. Tim and Sue were vey good at business, they found a niche and exploited it and, as customers, we bought into it and loved every minute.
The nearest comparison I can think of in town now is Bill's, Where you get charged over the odds but go there because it's the place to be seen.
On 23 Sep 2009 at 9:03am LTR wrote:
No, just someone who critiices other peoples spelling....but who can't spell.
On 26 Sep 2009 at 6:20pm o.t.d wrote:
www.thesnowdropinn.com? saw it in viva on new advert but nothing coming up? is the website still to be done?
On 27 Sep 2009 at 2:33pm Rose Tinted Specs wrote:
As I said in my first post on the original thread (and me has repeated here), most of you are looking to regain something that has long gone and 'aint comming back. It's not going to be what it was when Tim had it. Lewes in many ways has moved on.
The place will be frequented by dfls in the same way they go to the Lewes Arms, not to drink but to be seen drinking. Can't see them buying their gear of Carlos, can you?
On 29 Sep 2009 at 10:36am me wrote:
God, whatever happened to Carlos?
Riding his bike around town, offering his services as a "decorator"
On 2 Oct 2009 at 7:06pm Happy Shopper wrote:
Carlos is long gone but Troy (From behind the bar) still knocks out a fair bit of weed.
On 10 Oct 2009 at 1:52pm Anne & Alan of Lewes wrote:
Well, it's the 10th October and the Snowdrop looks great. Anne tried a new drink, Helles and Alan had his favourite - Harveys Best. Tony and Dominic have made a lovely job of cleaning up the pub, it looks fantastic.
Food should be up and running from next Friday 16th October, plasterers were working in the kitchen today.
We'd like to take this opportunity to wish them both all the very best. We'll be back there soon.

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Infernal reflections 46:132
Infernal reflections

I recently ran into a bit of a dilemma at my shop and thought my experience might be helpful for anyone in a similar situation.... more
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