Third site to open for Irish bar concept Whelans

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A third site is to be opened for upmarket Irish bar Whelans as part of expansion plans by multiple operator Austin Whelan.

He has taken on the premises of former pub Acorn 20 in Kingston upon Thames in south London. With the site’s owner, Star Pubs & Bars, they are investing £500,000 turning it into another Whelans.

The concept has been a success in Neasden and Uxbridge (pictured) in north-west London. Refurbishment of the new site, which has been shut up for 18 months, began this week and is due to be completed by late July.

It is Austin Whelan’s fifth site with Star Pubs & Bars and he plans to take on another two south London sites with the pub company later this year, bringing his total portfolio to eight.

The new Whelans will have a smart emerald green exterior with black and gold signage and a courtyard garden for dining and drinking with seating for 25 to 30 people.

Like the other Whelans bars, the interior has been designed to resemble a traditional Irish street scene with shop-front cabinetry as a backdrop. It will feature colourful tiles and wood panelling and have plenty of snugs for groups as well as an open area for enjoying live entertainment.

Whelans will open for breakfast and coffee and teas in the morning, light bites at lunch and traditional pub food in the evening. Food will range from paninis, soup and sandwiches to pizzas, Sunday roasts and Irish-influenced dishes such as steak and Guinness pie, Irish stew and bacon and cabbage.

It will show rugby, golf, racing and other live Sky sport on 10 screens and offer live music five nights a week including one night of traditional Irish music.

There will be a wide selection of wines, craft beers, Irish malt whiskeys and high-quality gins.

Austin said: “I’ve put my name to the Whelans brand and so it is important to me that Whelans represents the very best in Irish hospitality and is valued by the communities they serve. I want Whelans bars to stand the test of time and ultimately be run by my children, not disappear after 10 years.

“Both the Whelans we opened last year are trading above target, proof that the concept in the right place is a winner.

“We’ve chosen to take on further sites with Star as we have a great relationship with them. They are a good company to partner with, providing investment and business building support when we need it.”

Dugald Macer, regional operations director of Star Pubs & Bars, added: “Austin is a very experienced pub operator with high standards and a clear vision. It’s great that he’s giving Acorn 20 a new direction and is supporting local talent through the entertainment that Whelans will offer.

“We wish him well with this latest venture and look forward to helping him develop his portfolio further later this year.”

Photograph by Matt Grayson.

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