Meteoric success

Related tags Waterside pub partnership Organic food

Joshua Lyons, manager of the Earth & Stars in Brighton tells Sheila McWattie about sustaining an ethical gastropub What makes your business a...

Joshua Lyons, manager of the Earth & Stars in Brighton tells

Sheila McWattie about sustaining an ethical gastropub

What makes your business a success?

Brighton has a bright cultural scene with a commitment to green ethics. With our roof-top solar panel and organic wine list, we've always fitted into this environment. Our chef, E-J Scott, has taken this further by creating classic pub dishes with an ethical slant. E-J offers a diverse range of vegan, veggie and free-range meat-based options, and he's about to start his own organic herb garden. All the fish on the menu is sustainable. E-J's strong links with local suppliers is well known: he uses Infinity Foods and Doves Farm organic flours (whole wheat, gluten-free etc) for pizzas and breads. The Brighton Sausage Company is so local that its staff deliver on foot. As the kitchen is franchised, the chefs have a 100% financial investment in the return at the end of the week.

Our best promotions

Our new kitchen has only been open for six weeks, and we've doubled our food turnover already. We're about to start offering staff discount nights for our suppliers. Our vegan pizza of the week attracts new and regular locals and their friends. Expanding our local base to attract workers from the North Laine area, which is full of veggie and organic shops, is critical.

Our menu

Our fixed menu includes jumbo pollack and tarragon fish fingers with minted mushy peas and organic gherkin tartare, shoestring fries (£8.45); vegan pizzas such as the kalamata olive tapenade, shiitake mushroom, tofu and agave pumpkin seeds (12-inch, £7.95); Brighton Sausage Co free-range banger of the week, bubble and squeak and veg, (£7.25), and braised oxtail and smoked aubergine mash shepherd's pie (£7.95). We only have three meat-based pizza toppings — the other 11 are vegan/vegetarian. Local office workers love our take-away lunch wraps in made-to-order organic flatbreads (£4.95). Our Sunday roasts include ginger, clove and wild honey free-range chicken with seven vegetables (£7.95), and our organic local veg box and hummus pie of the week with parsnip mash (£7.95) helps promote seasonality. Our desserts change weekly. We stock Freedom organic lager, St Peter's organic best bitter, and an extensive organic wine list.

Our best investment in the last 12 months

Our chef, E-J. He loves recycling. And he brings to the pub exactly what I'd hoped for — he really knows what he's doing with organic produce and vegan dishes. He's worked all over the world — Sydney, Tokyo, Madrid, Bordeaux — and wants to reflect the passion for traditional food he's experienced in many other countries.

Marketing and PR

Word of mouth is very potent in Brighton. We often spot one regular in a big group — our locals introduce new trade all the time, and large groups can book our upstairs function room quite cheaply. We're on a main route between Brighton station and the North Laines, so I write quirky messages on the boards to catch the attention of passing trade — unless you are innovative, they can end being about as much use as wallpaper. The BII's magazine featured them recently and last week someone popped in just to say they'd cheered up her day. E-J is working on our website and one customer put us on Facebook. We advertise regularly in a local magazine, Latest Homes, but we don't have a big budget. Local businesses are charged happy-hour prices at any time and we offer food discounts to regulars and suppliers.

Our top tips

Be as nice as you can to everyone and reward regulars for their loyalty. Get the basics right and the rest follows. Ensure your customers can rely on consistency of experience. Work ethically and your commitment will be noticed and rewarded.

Ethical economics

The Boathouse, Auchinstarry, Scotland

Ownership: Waterside Pub Partnership

Lessee: Townhouse Restaurants

The pub is on the Forth & Clyde canal and is built using sustainably sourced timber. The water is heated by the canal and waste is treated naturally.

Water is pumped through a 7ft-long "radiator" at the foot of the canal to create heat for the pub. Hot water is topped up by a gas boiler.

Waste water from the pub is treated by reed beds on the other side of the marina, after solids have been removed. The

series of beds, which have watertight

liners, develop bacteria, which break down soluble material.

Townhouse managing director Malcolm Binnie says: "The pub only opened six weeks ago, but we are predicting savings of 25% to 40% on utility bills."

Townhouse also runs the Wheelhouse pub, in nearby Falkirk. "The energy-saving initiatives were introduced by the Waterside Pub Partnership, but they are certainly a feature we're excited about working with," says Malcolm.

The Boathouse also features waterless urinals, low-flush toilets, energy-efficient lighting and refrigeration.

"We have asked the designers to look at our other pub too — we'd like to see if it's possible to use a similar water-heating facility at the Wheelhouse," says Malcolm.

In the kitchen, Malcolm's team recycles oil and separates paper and glass. "We also have to be careful of detergents as our waste goes into reed beds," he says.

Kitchen equipment includes a thermodine, which Malcolm says is more economical. "We would like more energy-efficient equipment, but things such as induction hobs are still very expensive."

Malcolm believes energy efficiency and a green approach to pubs will be the future. "Firstly, we have to do our bit for the environment — and secondly, there is money to be saved in the long run."


Owners: Drink in Brighton managed house

Number of staff: kitchen — two full-time; bar — eight part-time

GP food: 65%

GP drink: 70%

Covers a week: 200

Food sales as % of turnover: 75% wet: 25% dry

Earth & Stars, 46 Windsor Street, Brighton BN1 1RJ. Tel: 01273 722879 Web:

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