Thanks to £80,000 of OIF money an old, disused building in West Green Road has been transformed into a thriving pub and pizza place.

Serving a range of craft beers and sourdough pizzas it’s a labour of love from owners John Lewis, his brother, David, and local resident Oz Earl.

We met with John to find out how their tasty treats are going down in Tottenham.

Why the name?

“On one hand we’re a specialist in craft beer. Tottenham has some of the biggest, best known craft breweries in London and 50% of our taps are Tottenham beers. And on the other hand we’re making quality pizzas which is a craft in itself. So True Craft is a kind of play on, ‘true to the craft’”.

Why Tottenham?

“Well, the first thing has to be the breweries. As you understand more about beer you realise that a crucial component is freshness. Having the amount of breweries we have on our doorstep ensures we get the freshest beer so the beer we sell is better than the rest. And this area, in particular, has been crying out for a decent drinking establishment.

And Tottenham is such an affordable place to move to, with great transport links, and I believe that it’s on the cusp of big things happening here. Lots of people are wanting to invest and we are seeing there’s a wave of businesses similar to ours opening. You’ve got High Cross café/bar, The Cause nightclub, Bluecoats pub, and Five Miles down the road which are all really cool, creative and independent businesses.”

How much of a factor was the Opportunity Investment Fund?

“The OIF turned out to be a big factor in deciding to come here. It definitely does tip businesses towards coming to this area hugely.”

How was the application process?

“It was good. The paperwork takes a while, understandably, but it is better to be thorough. And being as thorough as it was has made us stronger and, as a result, we planned out for the better what we are going to do with True Craft. It’s also made us more confident.”

What has the OIF money been used for?

“It was used for the fit out of True Craft including the top-grade pizza oven from Italy. The financial help from the OIF is massive and I don’t think we would have been as bold with our ambitions without it. We probably would have ended up with a lot smaller place and perhaps just a few seats and pizzas solely as a takeaway option. Whereas now we have plenty of room for people to be seated and enjoy their food and drinks.”

How have you found working with the council on the loan and wider business support?

“Very good. They went through our figures in great detail. We worked with Paul, the finance guy, who was really helpful and took time to sit down with us and go through the figures. He explained what he was doing all the way. I’m sure you wouldn’t get such care anywhere else. And I’ve found they are always on the end of the phone if we need them.”

Have you recommended the OIF to other businesses?

“Yes! A couple of people. They have been looking to open businesses in places like Walthamstow but I’ve said to them, ‘Think about Tottenham because you’ll have less competition, there’s bigger opportunities here and it’s also where you can get this financial backing’. It’s certainly worked for us and I can’t imagine being anywhere else in London now.”

Tell us some more about True Craft...

“Myself and my brother have always wanted to work together. His background is Sodo (the sourdough pizza chain) which does make the best pizzas in London. So he’s our head chef and I’m managing the cellar and Oz, my friend from university, has been in charge of the building. He’s a Tottenham resident and he was the one who decided Tottenham was the right place for us.

And we’ve transformed this old pub which used to be The West Green Tavern. It was closed for some time and we’re proud to have turned a derelict building into something of use for the community. The décor has a quite natural, industrial feel and we used features of the building that were already there such as: cleaning up the original pillars, reconditioning the Victorian wooden floors and exposing the brick walls and cleaning them up.

And so far it has been a great success which has exceeded all my expectations. The first weekend we opened we did incredible sales and it’s just carried on from there. We’re doing so well that we currently have ten staff which is a lot more than I expected this early on.

We like to think we’ve created an informal atmosphere where you can’t pre-book but can just come in for a beer if you like – or a beer and a pizza! Prices start at £7 for a Margherita, which is pretty reasonable, and £4.50 for a pint. We want to be as accommodating as possible – this is your local pub with a difference. People can eat inside or get a takeaway and we also have a little bottle shop so you can take away some beers to go with your pizza. One other thing, which is unique to us and has gone down really well, is that each of our pizzas has a recommended beer pairing and people have been really interested in discovering what works with what.”

True Craft is open seven days a week, from noon to 11pm (Sundays to Wednesdays) and noon to midnight (Thursdays to Saturdays).

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