Good Beer Hunting

BrewDog Expands its London Bar Estate With Thriving Tourist District Spot

Brewdog Bar.jpg

BrewDog will launch its seventh London bar in the capital’s tourist-heavy Seven Dials district. Located on Cambridge Circus, along Shaftesbury Avenue, the new venue will move into the site formerly occupied by restaurant chain Polpo’s Ape and Bird gastropub, which shut its doors unexpectedly a few days ago. The new venue will become BrewDog’s 31st UK bar and 47th internationally, including its Columbus, Ohio based taproom.

BrewDog’s expanding chain of bars has become the lifeblood for its brand, providing a healthy and reliable stream of revenue for the business. This newly-acquired, stand-alone, three-floor location is both spacious and benefits from one of the highest footfalls in the UK. It’s located opposite the Palace Theatre, currently hosting Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is sold out several months in advance.

It’s also located a 10-minute walk away from what’s rumored to be its highest-grossing bar in terms of revenue, on Soho’s Poland Street. However, it’s not the first city where BrewDog has placed two of its bars within close proximity of one another. Leeds, Aberdeen and, with another soon to open bar, Edinburgh, all have BrewDog bars within walking distance of each other.

“Our London sites are all performing really well, and we’re really excited to be adding more brilliant locations in London,” BrewDog’s Global Head of Marketing Sarah Warman tells GBH. “This site is located in Seven Dials, closer to Covent Garden than our venue on Poland Street. The traffic in both these areas is incredibly high and there is absolutely the demand for more amazing craft beer bars in these vibrant and busy regions of the capital.”

There is undoubtedly demand for more beer-focused options in London’s thriving tourist center. Compared to beer-heavy hotspots such as Hackney or Bermondsey in the east of the city, it’s lacking. BrewDog has already tasted success here with its Soho bar, as has pub chain the Craft Beer Co., which also has location near the Seven Dials area. However, despite the presence of a handful of beer-savvy traditional pubs, such as the Fuller’s-owned Harp, the area is often seen as somewhat lacking by beer fans.

Not every BrewDog venture within London has been a success, though. It’s first bottle shop, Bottledog, opened in 2014, but closed in January 2017. It’s bar in Homerton, East London opened in December 2016 but closed just six months later. BrewDog also attempted to launch its first restaurant concept, Dog Eat Dog, on Essex Road, Islington in 2015, but it closed in 2016. The latter is due to be redeveloped into a small-scale brewpub called Hopworks, pending a licence hearing this month. Finally, the brewery intends to open a larger-format brewpub in London’s Tower Hill later this year.

The fact that, Polpo, the new site’s former occupant has had to relinquish the building could be a cause for concern. The chain, which acquired the site in 2014 and has five restaurants in the capital has stated that the site was profitable. This, along with the joint closure of its restaurant in Bristol, could be an example of the current pressures facing the UK restaurant industry. The case for BrewDog’s popularity amongst the mainstream market will be tested as they try to turn this new site into a success. As for the beer fans, they’ll be one craft beer bar richer, in an area that for so long lacked a decent offering.

—Matthew Curtis