Trade helps revive cult London store

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A beloved independent wine shop and bar that had looked doomed to closure has been brought back to life thanks to a fundraising campaign from a member of the team.

P Franco in Hackney, which closed in April, has relaunched as 107 Wine Shop & Bar.

The site was originally part of the We Are Noble Group, which also included the Noble Fine Liquor shop and Bright bar.

P Franco manager Will Gee says: “We Are Noble called us into a meeting on the Wednesday and told us they wouldn’t be reopening any of the sites.

“I think it was the following Friday that I called the landlord and asked if I could potentially take it on. I had very little idea at that point; I was just gathering information. Then I spoke to a few people about setting up a crowd fund.

“It happened so quickly. There was £12,000 in three days, and it got to just shy of £20,000 in about four weeks. At that point I had another look at what we needed and realised that was about the right amount.

“With Crowdfunder you have to reach the target to get the cash, so I messaged everyone to let them know I was bringing the target down because we had what we needed.

“There were some really generous contributions from people in the industry. I won’t name them, in case they don’t want me to, but I am incredibly grateful – and always will be – for every single contribution in that crowd fund. The place wouldn’t be back open without them. It was a real community effort.”

Gee says that although he was relatively new to We Are Noble, only starting with P Franco in 2021, he felt that the empty shop becoming anything else “just felt wrong”.

He explains: “You know that point in a job where you really sort of hit your stride? That was me. I was just absolutely loving it and that was one of the reasons why I wanted to reopen – it was my job. But the other thing was that the shop was such a part of the local people’s lives, so it just felt really right to keep it going.”

Gee now has his own company and a new lease. He has made a few subtle changes to the shop to mark the end of one chapter and the start of a new one.

“We’ve changed the tiniest amount of stuff,” he says. “We painted the walls, but I was just colour matching, so it’s feeling fresh inside. We had a huge metal wine shelf – about seven metres long – and I’ve taken that off.

“I’ve rearranged the posters to allow space for all the new posters for events that will happen. It’s a nice nod to the fact that this is still the same place.”

107 Wine Shop & Bar will continue to stock only natural wines and work with its wide range of suppliers including Vine Trail, Unchartered, Les Caves de Pyrene and Provisions.

“There were only a handful of places in London back in 2014 that customers could drink natural wines by the glass,” Gee says. “What [previous owners] Liam [Kelleher] and James [Noble] did in believing in it and setting up the place for it to happen was immense.

“They made this an exciting place for people to explore and it’s also given a platform to chefs to come in and cook alongside all these incredible wines. I have a huge level of respect for what they did, and I want to honour all of that.”

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