Regulars keep ‘tradition alive’ by taking over Cliftonville Tap Room

Nicky and Leanne behind the bar at the Tap Room

By Jodie Nesling

A much-loved community pub has reopened in Cliftonville after loyal punters stepped in to take on the business.

The Tap Room in Prices Avenue gained popularity by bringing the community together and offering an informal place to drink good beer and meet new people.

New co-owner Leanne Walsh says regulars wanted to keep that tradition alive. “When I first moved to Margate, I worked behind the bar here, we respect the old Tap and we loved it. It’s a real community pub and what everyone has been missing during lockdown,” she said.

The micro pub was among a host of other hostelries to pop up over the isle and was the brainchild of local Phil Leader – it quickly gained popularity for being an informal place to enjoy Kentish ale and on occasion listen to live music.

Amongst the regulars were Barry and Nicky Vicar who stepped in to take the pub on after a discussion with Phil.

Barry said: “We jumped at it and then approached our neighbours Leanne and Matt Walsh to see if they wanted to join us –   it was important to have the same vibe here.”

Barry is no stranger to pubs having opened the popular Sea Shed on Margate Main Sands but The Tap Room is his local and a very different offering.  He said: “We live around the corner and it’s nice not to have to go into town for a beer.

“It is my favourite place to drink. We have an Estrella lager on tap and beers from London Fields and Northdown Brewery-they’re all key keg so no need for a chiller room which has made more space. There’s space at the back and we want to keep it as a snug,” he said.

They were keen to maintain the ethos and vibe behind Phil’s tenure and as such there are recognisable features like the original taps and vintage signage from the former bar.

Leanne, who designed Libertines’ hotel The Albion Rooms and Buoy and Oyster holiday lets, created the bar area which now also reveals the original brickwork and a new traditional bar.

Leanne, who also runs a vintage furniture shop at Lost Property, Northdown Road, says the bar was constructed by using a discarded dresser. She said: “We just found it in the street and salvaged it. It was important for us to have an old pub feel which is why we have the red velvet curtain and the foot rail.

“There have been so many newcomers to Margate and of course with the pandemic they have not been able to meet new people or places so we look forward to people coming -we want to create a place where you would be happy to come on your own for a pint.”


    • That was my thoughts exactly. No real ale is a no no for me as well but all the same I wish these ladies well.

      • Shame as I spent many a penny on ale in there. Phil used to keep a nice pint but didn’t keep it open regularly. Things change and I expect the DFL crowd like the key keg stuff..

      • For real? London prices for Londoners then, that’s what it looks like. No way I can afford that nor most in Thanet. Seems the new idea mentioned is to force out locals from their local. Prices Avenue indeed.
        See who is going to pay a fiver a pint in the winter…

      • Andrew and HH – it’s been a hard time for a year+ now for pubs/bars/nightclubs; many have lost a LOT of money, and the wonder is that so many can re-open now. If such a hostelry needs to go a little more ‘populist’ (and anyway, there may well be problems with stock/supply straight into reopening) in the short term, why not? They are open and thus allowing people to meet/socialize in a convivial atmosphere, something many have not been able to do for some time. Celebrate the positives!

  1. Where about in Prices avenue is this micro pub? It would have been good to see a picture taken from outside. Is it where the HSBC bank was on the corner?

    • No that’s Banks Ale and Winehouse. Real ale served well at a decent price not the key keg rubbish. Keykeg is like the DFLs all fizzy top but no substance.

      • I take it you do not welcome outsiders Harry? Would you rather Thanet stayed like Royston Vasey. New people to the area bring new ideas and help build an area and move it forward together. If this didn’t happen we would be stuck living in caves still and nobody would ever leave the area they were born in.

        • I assume you have moved then ? And you think Thanet is like Royston Vasey.. And needs”moving forward” how condescending. We are saved!
          So no wonder DFLs get a back lash.

          • I don’t think Thanet is like Royston Vasey. I think the attitude of some of the ‘locals’ is disgusting as shown here, I have lived here for along time and if you don’t think Thanet has been left behind the rest of the country in certain areas you are blind, so yes it does need moving forward in those area’s. Labelling ‘DFLs ‘ and people that move to the area the way you have shows you are not prepared to accept others which says more about yourselves than anything. Enjoy your real ale or as others say…bitter.

  2. Good to see the Tap Room re-opening and let’s support another local Cliftonville business. Handy as I only live around the corner!

  3. There is a skill in keeping real ale. It needs looking after to make sure it’s served in tip-top condition. Key keg beer is a fool-proof system meaning it’s ideal for the amateur publican. Key keg is an expensive product, so expect a pint at around a fiver.
    Good luck, hope the business thrives and perhaps reintroduce some real ale in the future perhaps?

  4. Yet another story about a business opening/changing and the vast majority of comments are dullards whining about how it doesn’t cater exactly to their tastes.
    Not everything is for you! And I’d always rather have businesses be open than shut.. but some folk just like being miserable I guess.

    • The point being made is that the new owners of the Tap are saying they are keeping the tradition of the original Tap and, as people have pointed out in their comments, in terms of the type of beer they are serving and their pricing, they are not.

      • As beer geek says… amateurs for sure, max profit min effort. As to RL I think it is you that is bitter, stick to your glorified Watneys party seven tins…pricing out locals it is you that isn’t accepting of others. The others in this case being us on Thanet wages. London clique in Thanet like the Brits in Benidorm.

  5. Oh, stop whining. Open your own pub if you’re so invested in what goes on.
    What’s this fallacy about ‘Thanet wages’?! Different things cost different prices… And not everything has to cater to everyone.. feel free to stick to sharing half a pint of (carefully tapped) dishwater that cost you 9 and sixpence or whatever it is you’re after.

  6. Tap is a great establishment. Lots of fun times had there. Best of luck Phil in whatever you do next and best of luck to the new owners. Remember folks.. The Only Constant in Life Is Change.

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