So when the Harold closed its doors for the final time I wasn’t exactly sad to see it go, but hoped its new incarnation would be a different pub – as opposed to becoming overpriced apartments.
Over the subsequent year nothing really happened, until a couple of weeks ago when the exterior got a lick of paint and a sign went up announcing that The Leyton Star would be opening soon. I immediately recognized the star logo as the symbol of the group of pubs founded by nightlife industry veteran Rob Star, which includes The Star of King’s (Kings Cross), The Jackdaw and Star (Homerton), The Star of Bethnal Green and The Star by Hackney Downs. This is someone who knows a thing or two about running a good boozer.
Turns out Rob has been looking for a pub in the area for a while: “I’ve been biking the streets of Leyton and Leytonstone for a few years now looking for the perfect spot. When this one became available I instantly knew it was the right place,” he said.
He’s planning for the Leyton Star to be a real part of the local community: “I’m a keen football fan, so we will be sponsoring a couple of Leyton Orient matches, as they will hopefully push for promotion next season. Our first floor function space will be available free of charge midweek to community groups who need a space, and we will also be offering our private hire spaces for kids parties at the weekend.”Sounds good, right? What I’m looking forward to, given what I know about the other pubs, is a strong selection of beers with a London bias, a choice of more than two wines, creative cocktails, tasty food that goes well with booze (Burger & Beyond, The Sugar Shack, Yeah Burger and The Joint run things in their other kitchens) and award-winning Sunday roasts.
There’s bound to be a brilliant pub quiz; the seven-round Super Star Quiz at The Star of Bethnal Green has appeared in top five pub quizzes in London lists and they do occasional themed quizzes (Alan Partridge! Harry Potter!). As well as regular DJs, the other pubs host everything from comedy and life drawing classes, book clubs and karaoke, plus festivals and street parties.
Interiors-wise expect a stripped-back look with the occasional flight of fancy: the interior of The Star By Hackney Downs features a carousel horse, multiple chandeliers, and an oversized illuminated star – all good for the social media share, of course.
A nose through the window of the soon-to-be Leyton Star yesterday revealed that the interior has been all but ripped out, the space is currently dominated by a handsome bar, and, well, that’s about all there is in there right now. I predict a couple of all-nighters between now and opening day, some time in early July.
Rob’s already thinking beyond the pub. “Longer term, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for a space to hold an annual community event in the area (something we do in Hackney Downs and Bethnal Green). Right now , we just can’t wait to get the doors open and start welcoming in some of the many locals who have got in touch via Facebook, Twitter and email – many of whom have also signed up for one of our 1,000 free pints that we will be giving away.”