There's more to The Gun than meets the eye. The traditional pub is a short walk from Canary Wharf, one of the busiest business districts in the country.

It's tucked away in a residential area that has watched on as the corporate skyscrapers erupted on its landscape. From the street, it looks like a decent enough local but you get no idea of what is waiting inside.

Nooks and crannies await, along with a history involving Lord Nelson, and some of the best riverside views you could wish for.

It is here, looking across the Thames to the dome of the O2 Arena, where we meet manager JP Toerien. He has been behind the barrel of The Gun for five years. During that time, it has been bought by Fuller's from London multiple operator ETM Group, in what, it is safe to say, was a multi-million- pound deal.

 

 

That's the other surprising factor about the pub: it's a Fuller's managed house. You wouldn't know from looking around because apart from the ubiquitous London Pride being on the bar, there is barely any branding.

It is the food at this pub that sets it apart though. It is truly in the upper echelons of gastro offerings, which is again not something you would necessarily associate with a company on the scale of Fuller's.

JP explains: "The quirkiness of the pub and the whole fresh food concept drew me to it. Our ethos was that we would have daily fish specials that the chefs would create in the kitchen."

 

Under new management

He built the business for four years and then, just over a year ago, experienced the uncertainty of the pub changing hands.

"It was a surprise at first," says JP (pictured below, right), "but joining a bigger company like Fuller's meant a lot more support at operations level. I soon realised how much support there was. It's hard work but I love this business and this building and the history."

 

 

The building and the history remain but with a change of ownership came some new things too. Some customers drifted to other ETM offers while new ones were attracted by the Fuller's name. Keeping the food consistent was essential to the pub's continued success.

"We used to have more independent suppliers and now we have ones who supply to a larger number of people. We couldn't allow our quality to drop but there have been some good changes," he continues.

"We haven't had to change the menu, we do that with the seasons and work with fresh products. Things are as good as before, just with different suppliers."

 

 

 

The style of food has remained the same too and the pub is exploring a wider range of vegan and vegetarian options.

"We mix it up between traditional and trends. Our menu is British and French-inspired. We have some classics such as pies, scotch eggs and mussels," says JP.

The appeal of the pub is for the many, not the few. Its customer base is mixed, with corporate business dominating the week and more local trade at the weekend. They also run numerous private events in dining rooms and on the terrace.

"We pride ourselves on our service and our food," continues JP, "and we have to make sure our service lends itself to both the corporates and residents — we have to provide the same level of service to all."

Perhaps the fact that The Gun retained all of its staff shows how smoothly the transition went from one owner to another.

It also shows why The Gun is the template for a new dining division that Fuller's has created for gastro pubs — and why traditional values never go out of fashion.

 

Lord Nelson's local

At the end of the 18th century, Lord Horatio Nelson moved into the area and bought a nearby home — still known as Nelson's House.
He regularly visited the pub and met with his mistress Lady Emma Hamilton in an upstairs room, now called The River Room. The pub was renamed The Gun in 1802, after the cannon that was fired to mark the opening of West India Import Docks.