Crowdfunding helps community pub reopen after Burger King battle

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

Crowdfunding helps community pub reopen after Burger King battle

Related tags Fast food Alcoholic beverage Hamburger

A community pub in Brighton is set to reopen after a successful crowdfunding campaign helped fight off competition from a fast-food chain.

The Bison Arms will open its doors this summer after the owners of the nearby bottle shop Bison Beer successfully raised £100,000, largely from local investors.

Joint owners Jack Cregan and Nick Vardy have secured the freehold of the pub which will be run by licensee of the Bottom’s Rest in Hove, Simon Duddington.

Regular customers

The final £10,000 was donated last week by a regular customer to Bison Beer - a shop which focuses on independent, small batch beer, largely local to Sussex.

Cregan said: “This can be a pilot for other parts of the country. Rather than pubs closing down and turning into flats or fast food restaurants, if it’s in the right location in a city others could crowdfund to do the same as we have.”

Burger King had applied to open at the site, which was formerly the Mariner pub, but the council rejected the proposal following a campaign supporting the Bison Arms’ plan.


Cregan believes the success of the crowdfunding campaign was the strength of the craft beer market, Bison Beer’s reputation and local hostility towards a multi-national company.

“People believe in what we are doing, and we’re going to have a similar philosophy at the pub,” he said.

“It’s Brighton standing up for what it believes in. Investors want to put their hard earned cash into something independent for the community.”


The Bison Arms also plans to launch a microbrewery in the basement. The names of all founders who invested at least £93 will be engraved on the wall of the pub.

 “It’s an exciting time for beer, that’s why we got into it. The market seems good, and people that don’t even know Brighton think it’s a good opportunity,” Cregan said.

90% of investors were locals or customers, but there have also been contributions from France, Australia and New Zealand.


“We achieved our target seven days earlier than we were aiming for. We thought 60 days was a realistic target. When we hit it we weren’t quite sure what had happened. It had gathered some momentum,” Cregan explained.

The Bison Arms has drafted in specialists to ensure it’s as economical and environmentally friendly as possible.

“People here didn’t want a Burger King, they don’t want multi-national company. They want a community pub,” he added.

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