‘This is much more than just a bar or café for me’

Alex Greig

Last week, Fuggles Beer Café celebrated 10 years of trading with a party on November 15 at their establishment on Grosvenor Road in Tunbridge Wells.

Sparked by a love of beer combined with a trip to Belgium that ‘cemented’ owner Alex Greig’s admiration for Belgian beer and European café culture, he set up in the former pound shop on Grosvenor Road in 2013.

The well-loved ‘beer café’ focuses on celebrating the best in beer, wine, gin and whisky from around the UK and Europe. The business has grown over the 10 years, opening a site in Tonbridge in 2017 and most recently a Bottle Shop on Camden Road.

Alex told the Times: “I’d been managing bars and pubs since my early 20s and my goal was always to try and open my own place. I reached a point where I just wanted to do things under my own steam. With a bit of luck and hustle I managed to scrape together just enough money to make things a reality.

“I felt there was a real affinity for good beer, for European beer and for something a little different locally – a pub-cum-cafe atmosphere, nothing pretentious, just good drinks and decent service with nice people around the place and a half-decent playlist in the background.”

The beer café has survived tough times – support from customers and the team helped the business to weather the pandemic. Some of Fuggles’ regulars have been supporting the business since its inception.

“I think that’s one of the more special parts of what happened here, it became part of people’s lives, it became ‘their place’. We’ve developed some fantastic friendships and got to know some wonderful people over the last 10 years, it’s ended up being much more than just a bar or café for me,” Alex added.

Over the years the business has won multiple awards, from featuring in the Observer’s ‘Best Places to Drink’ guide, to winning CAMRA’s Pub Of The Year competition and featuring in the Good Beer Guide for nine years running.

Evolving through the years – opening new sites, developing the drinks menu and food offering, the next few years for the business could be ‘really interesting’.

“We’re also really focusing on our sustainability at the moment and the next couple of years are really key for us on that side of things. Then, hopefully, we might do something else, open somewhere new or something a little different to what we currently do – it really depends on what comes up and what’s available. Until then though we’ll just keep doing what we do!”

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