New operators of The Fox hope to make it ‘a destination pub’

After a turbulent few months new operators Ben Abrahams, Christian Arden and Ruben Scott tell James Cracknell what they have in store for the Palmers Green venue

From left; Ruben Scott, Christian Arden and Ben Abrahams outside The Fox
From left; Ruben Scott, Christian Arden and Ben Abrahams outside The Fox

The new operators of The Fox pub in Palmers Green have pledged to “give it back to the community” after a difficult few months.

The Fox was nearly forced to close earlier this year following a series of noise complaints from neighbours in the adjoining new-build flats, who said they could even hear the hand dryers in the toilet.

Whelans had been operating the venue in Green Lanes since the pub was reopened after a major refurbishment in February last year, with the Irish-themed chain offering food, sport and live music, but ran into trouble when noise complaints led Enfield Council to review the pub’s premises licence.

While the subsequent licence committee hearing last month saw a reprieve, The Fox was told to install noise limiting devices that made it difficult to continue live music, jeopardising Whelans’ business model.

Thankfully, new operators have been found by owners Star Pubs & Bars, with Ben Abrahams, Christian Arden and Ruben Scott now taking charge. The trio have a small group of pubs in North London, including The Victoria Stakes in Muswell Hill and The Gipsy Queen in Kentish Town.

“It is a wonderful historic building and we want to give it back to the community,” says Ben.

“It is the same thing we have done on our other sites. It is about good drinks and good food and becoming a place to meet.”

One of the first things they did upon taking over The Fox earlier this month was install new, quieter hand dryers. But will this be the end of live music at the pub?

“The problems with the building are well documented,” says Christian. “After the [licence] hearing they came to test the noise levels, and it was clear live music wouldn’t be possible.

“We were brought in by Star Pubs as a safe pair of hands. I commend them for trying to make it work, rather than alienating residents.

“We want to build trust and a relationship with all parties – we have been given the opportunity to make it commercially viable.”

While live music is off the agenda at The Fox for now, entertainment including quiz nights and sport will continue. And if it can be done without annoying the neighbours in the adjoining block of flats, they will still consider putting on jazz or folk nights in future, as well as comedy.

“We want to offer a warm hug as people come in the door,” says Ben. “The emphasis is now on the drinks and the food and good service.”

At The Gipsy Queen, quiz nights can attract up to 100 people, and that’s something Ruben as operations director is aiming to achieve at The Fox.

He’s also hoping, by improving the beer selection, to get The Fox noticed by the local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) when it next runs an award for best pub in Enfield.

“We’re going to nail it,” vows Ben. “I think we can become a destination. We want to have the best roasts in Enfield.”

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