An online petition launched to save The Great Eastern pub in Brighton has gathered over 3,000 signatures in just two days.
The pub based on Trafalgar Street has come under threat after the landlords, Ei Group, have told its owners they will not be renewing its lease in March.
The Great Eastern has been part of the Brighton and Hove pub scene for decades and is known for its eclectic selection of over 100 American Whiskeys, voted Best Spirit pub in the country in 2008.
Owner and managing director of Brighton-based company, Pleisure, Nick Griffin, was saddened by the news of the lease but has been overwhelmed by the support for the pub from the community.
Speaking to Brighton Journal about the petition, Mr Griffin said: “It shows the strength of feeling that surrounds The Great Eastern which most in the city hold dear as an institution that needs preserving in its current guise.”
Mr Griffin bought the lease to his favourite Brighton pub over 25 years ago and has been surrounded by pub culture for most of his life as his parents ran one when he was five-years-old.
Commenting on the vibrancy of The Great Eastern, he said: “For American Whiskey lovers it’s certainly a very special place, but it is still a pub, with great beer, knowledgeable and friendly staff who want to be there and a proper pub atmosphere.”
He explained under the terms of the Landlord and Tenant Act, Ei has stated they plan to take it back for their own use, possibly to manage themselves.
Ei has also shown intentions of taking back two of Pleisure’s other Brighton and Hove pubs, The Saint James and The Office.
Failure to renew these leases will collapse Pleisure as a company, costing jobs and severing a crucial cultural link in the city.
Brighton Journal approached Ei for comment, who released the following statement: “We are in ongoing dialogue with the current publican with regards to their expiring lease at The Great Eastern.
“We would like to reassure customers that we are committed to ensuring that this site remains an attractive and thriving pub at the heart of the local community.”
Drinks writer and pub regular of The Great Eastern, Andy Burnyeat, started the campaign on Thursday (3 Jan) when he first heard of the landlords’ decision.
Since becoming a regular customer of the pub in 2005, Mr Burnyeat said: “No other pub has such a range, depth of knowledge among the staff or the ability to relate its offer to new American whiskey drinkers through such means as the sale of Flights or public tastings and talks at the venue.”
By starting the petition, he seeks to demonstrate to Ei how ingrained the pub is in Brighton’s culture.
The Pleisure pub group and Mr Burnyeat have been surprised with how quickly the petition has attracted the support of the community.
Discussing the next steps, Mr Burnyeat added: “Much depends, I would suggest, on Ei’s response to the breadth and depth of feeling that has been shown to exist through the signatures to and comments on the petition.”
The Great Eastern is now thinking of ways to expand the campaign, including possibly running a poster competition, ‘Save The Eastern’, with prizes donated by their suppliers.
For more information and to support The Great Eastern, visit the petition page.
Featured image © Copyright Mike Quinn