Owners of a micropub and nearby bottle shop hope recent national award nominations will help shine the spotlight on Worthing and its independent businesses.
John Azzopardi and Aaron Burns from Brooksteed Alehouse have been shortlisted for Pub Personality of the Year in the 2019 Imbibe awards, while Bottle & Jug Dept, which they own with Tom Flint, is up for Newcomer of the Year in the Drinks Retailing Awards 2019.
John and Aaron took over the Brooksteed, in South Farm Road, Worthing, in April 2017 and the bottle shop, diagonally opposite, opened in May this year.
Tom, director at Bottle and Jug Dept, said: “From my point of view, it is great for our shop to have already gained national attention, both personally and for the town as a whole.
“We opened the shop as we felt that Worthing is a town that is changing. We are the first craft beer shop and the only place in Worthing where you can purchase natural wine.
“We support both local, national and international producers who do things properly, creating quality products that have been made with care, and, on the wine side particularly, with sustainability and respect for the environment at the core of their business.
“Worthing’s pub and bar scene has been developing over the past five years or so and we wanted to give people somewhere to buy those products to enjoy at home.
“Natural wine is still a fairly underground thing. Outside of major cities like London, Brighton and Bristol, it can be hard to come by, so for Worthing to have a shop specialising in this and customers enjoying it is fantastic. I’m very passionate about these products and for our customers to be sharing that excitement and passion for quality is very rewarding.
“Worthing has been my home now for four years and I wanted to open the kind of shop that I would want to visit. The response from our customers has been amazing and for a national specialist off trade magazine to recognise what we have created is very humbling. If this helps to shine the spotlight even more on Worthing and its independent businesses, then we have already won as far as I am concerned.”
John and Aaron enjoy the community feel at the Brooksteed and are pleased the micropub has had wider recognition.
Aaron said: “We have been shortlisted with some real industry big hitters, so we are up against the likes of the two who started the Brewhouse & Kitchen chain. For such a small pub to be nominated and shortlisted, it was a surprise.
“We very much see ourselves as a community pub. For the first year, it was mostly John and myself doing everything. It makes all that hard work feel worthwhile. We are now in the place where we have a team and we have just been able to take our first holiday in 18 months.
“The final decision will be made by our peers, so it is a real honour for us.”
Aaron highlighted the ‘explosion of micropubs’ in Worthing in recent years and said by supporting each other, they were giving customers a better experience and attracting more people to the town.