From Loose Women to owning an iconic Brighton landmark, it’s been an interesting journey for the new landlord of The Quadrant, John Purchese.
Firstly, before we’re royally sued, please note the capitalisation of Loose Women! That’s right, towards the end of the most awkwardly-named decade in history, the naughties, Purchese was working in London, about to sign a long contract to work on ITV’s Loose Women, when he was asked by a friend to help run The Open House, as he had experience in hospitality.
Enjoying both the work, and being back in his home city, he left his TV career behind and started contracting with bars – running the back end of the operation, supplying staff, essentially everything but paying for the beer. This less risky way of learning how to run a pub (you don’t have to whack £200,000 of your own money behind the bar – unless you’re having a really big night), allowed him to not only become a practised manager, but also to rectify the fortunes of a range of well-known pubs across the city, including the Hobgoblin, Good Companions, Hare and Hounds, Seven Stars and William the Fourth.
Now, with over ten years’ experience of successfully managing pubs, and gaining an intimate knowledge of the Brighton pub scene in which he grew up, he is taking on his own project, by bringing back to life the iconic Quadrant Pub. Just north of The Clock Tower, wedged into the oblique join between Queen’s Road and Air Street, this isosceles-shaped pub, split over two levels, is a landmark in its own right, a listed building, and a beautiful bar, bursting with character.
Ideally situated for shoppers to drop in and have a glass and a bag (pint/glass of wine and bag of crisps/nuts – it’s not a thing, but it sounds like it should be. Come on, let’s make it a thing), the pub deserves to be more than a go-on-then-why-not pub. It has been underutilised for a number of years and has been crying out for a landlord with the comprehensive knowledge of the Brighton cultural scene to know how best to ensure that a pub of that size can thrive, and once again become a destination pub, somewhere where Brightonians and visitors to the city alike will make a beeline for.
The practice of the UK pub culture in recent years has seen smaller pubs get left behind, receiving less investment by their owners who are concentrating on larger, more profitable venues. This is nowhere more evident than in Brighton, where many smaller venues have been neglected and ended up closing, or being run into the ground. As a Brightonian born-and-bred Purchese wants to stop the rot, and inject some life back into these smaller venues, and by doing so, give people the breadth of choice he had when growing up.
“I’m from Brighton, I love Brighton, and I’m staying in Brighton. My mission statement is to put some love back into its bars,” offering an experience-lead night out, making more use of the beautiful building itself. This includes plans in the pipeline to transform the second floor into something quite special – watch this space. (And as for the rumours that a well-known British burger company will be refurbing the in-house kitchen and selling burgers and chips? “I Honestly can’t comment…”).
It is not just the punters that are considered in this revamp. The plan is for everything to be as Brighton-based as possible, from staff to wholesalers, with beer predominantly being supplied by Jordan at Unbarred – “because his beer’s amazing!”
The intentions and the reasons behind them, are summed up best by the man himself. “I want people to love Brighton as much as I do,” he explains, simply. If you don’t already, I would suggest a glass and a bag in The Quadrant (see, it’s catching on already), is a glorious place to start such a love affair.
The Quadrant is at:12-13 North St Quadrant, Brighton BN1 3GJ