By Angela Green
The Jolly Gardeners was conceived in lockdown by five friends with over 65 years’ combined experience in some of London’s best venues.
Front of House lead Jonathan Kaye, Head Chef Dan Blucert, and Bar Manager Nick Blucert cut their teeth at the likes of Oblix, Polpo, Nepture, Big Easy, The Delauney, Gauthier, and Silo. Engineer Ryan Vivian and surveyor Rob Humphreys bring different yet equally important skills into the mix.
Finding themselves on furlough or out of work while the pandemic temporarily ripped the economy to shreds, this determined bunch pushed on with their dream to open their own boozer.
The team’s common goal was (and still is) simple: to open an honest, welcoming, wholly independent public house, with food central to its ethos, where they would all genuinely love to enjoy a pint together.
Renovations took place during the nationwide lockdown at the beginning of 2021, and the team created a lighter, brighter space just in time to quench the thirst of their lager-parched locals, who were crying out for a pint by the time restrictions were eventually lifted in April of the same year.
The site itself is rich in history. Originally constructed in the 19th century, The Jolly narrowly missed being destroyed during the Blitz. Legend has it that Charlie Chaplin Snr used to use his piano skills to encourage punters to stick around for another drink or two. It was also where Guy Ritchie chose to film the famous ‘Desert Eagle .50’ scene for his 90s comedy Snatch.
Now, locals and tourists alike enjoy The Jolly for its modern, airy, plant-heavy décor; its relentlessly friendly staff; its commitment to sustainable practices; its impressive selection of locally sourced beers; and, of course, its forward-thinking (and heavily plant-based) menu.
Its ‘cosy heritage-pub vibes’ have also been commended by the wider industry; in fact, The Jolly Gardeners was voted one of the Best Places to Drink in the UK in 2022 by the Observer Food Monthly Awards.
A pub that’s a platform for social good
Fresh from launching a slew of fresh dishes – including seared scallops with a sweetcorn purée and peanut and sesame rāyu; a lamb special with pak choi and saffron sauce; and a delicious peanut butter cheesecake with caramelised banana – The Jolly is gearing up for an action-packed summer.
The pub is famed for its lively fundraising events, a recent one of which involved a DJ set from celebrity regulars Ben Miles and Toby James, who span some tunes to help raise £4,500 for the Turkish and Syrian earthquake relief fund.
The team also hosted a party back in April to honour two successful years of trading and raise cash for chef and director Dan, who ran this year’s London Marathon in support of Alzheimer’s Research UK. The pub generated £1,500 in total for the charity.
As Dan says: “Pubs have been at the centre of communities for hundreds of years, so as publicans, we owe it to pass on these traditions of giving something back to the people that have relied on their locals for so long.”
There’s another charity event for Stockwell Says Hello just around the corner, and the kitchen is set to launch a new menu in time for the (hopefully) hotter months, with plenty of interesting dishes for regulars and newbies to try. The roof is off the pub’s secret cosy garden, too, opening up even more outdoor space for city catch-ups, corporate ‘dos, and other special occasions.