The Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh has revealed ambitions to take the estate to 20 sites by 2018 as the company opens its eighth site, The Draft House Chancery, today.
The new opening near Chancery Lane – the biggest Draft House so far at 6,648 square feet – will be quickly followed by the opening of a new Old Street site, in mid-May. Though McVeigh said the company still has its sights set firmly on London, high rents were forcing it to look outside of the capital for imminent further expansion.
It is set to open its first venue outside of London, its tenth in total, before October, with McVeigh confirming the company has already identified a new site. It hopes to open five more sites in 2017.
'We don’t feel we've yet covered London.' he said. 'But the challenge in London is rents. We're still very actively looking. We'd love to be in Camden. We'd love to have a few more in the City. We’d love to be in Greenwich, Victoria and to have a good site in Notting Hill, but rents there are just nuts.
'Our immediate plan is to do a few pubs in orbital London towns, where there are lots of workers, and see how it goes. We're talking about places like Bracknell, Woking, Slough, Basingstoke, Crawley, Milton Keynes, all those kinds of places.'
The Draft House was founded in 2009, with a concept based on providing a local pub atmosphere, alongside an unrivalled range of beer, honest food, fine wines and warm service. The first site was on Clapham's Northcote Road.
However, McVeigh says having a strong and interesting beer range is no-longer a strong enough selling point in today's craft beer-saturated market. 'It's not that difficult to do great craft beer,' he said. 'So that’s not really something we can protect. But what we can protect is the training and knowledge our team have, and the passion that they have for it. Being able to talk to the customer about it is a point of difference.'
The new Chancery site on Fetter Lane will include a Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised tank beer room, where guests can book a lesson on how to pour beer, and self-pour from their own font for the evening. The Draft House Old Street will be located behind Shoreditch Grind at the Old Street roundabout.