So what’s it like running a pub next door to the 41,387-seat stadium of a premiership football club?
Bar Manager Edge Ferla moved from Brazil to London to do just that. An affable, softly spoken man and avid photographer, Edge sports a hipster beard and accompanying tattoos that convey his creativity.
Up on the wall in a snug by the bar is a bicycle. It’s certainly a talking piece, being somewhat out of place.
“That was left here by a customer,” explained Edge, “He’d been drinking in the afternoon and didn’t have enough money to pay his bill. He said he’d leave his bike and come back the next day to settle up. He never did, so we’re just looking after his bike until he comes back.
“You’ve got to have a sense of humour when you’re running a pub. Especially one that gets as busy as this. We’re a traditional pub on the Fulham Road so the clientele is very diverse, but they all understand humour.
“This pub, more than most, is about relationships. It’s our customers’ pub, their local, it needs to feel like home. That’s the same for the weekday lunchtime trade as it is for the football fans coming in for a pre-match pint.
“Having 40,000 people turn up next door every now and then presents its own challenges. We work closely with fans, the club and the police to make sure everything runs smoothly. The fans can be very particular which is why being free of tie is essential. The weekday customers have a taste for a more artisan beer from the likes of The Camden Town Brewery while the fans prefer more of a mainstream lager. By being able to listen and adapt, we can ensure people feel at home. It is their local after all.
“The Wellington Pub Company’s philosophy allows us to do just that. We have the ability to choose whether we operate a pub, a mixed bar/restaurant or even a 100% restaurant format. With their support, we’re revamping the food offer at The Chelsea Pensioner. We can’t be too up-market, our customers don’t want that, but they do want something quick, easy and tasty before a game. By being able to do something bespoke, we can ensure that we maximise profits.”