Since 2017, independently owned The Dodo Micropub in Hanwell has established itself as one of the best drinking and socialising places in Ealing. A local inclusive community one room pub on Boston Road to go for a drink and meet up with people.
EALING.NEWS caught up with Lucy Do, the 41-year-old owner of The Dodo about how the concept of a micropub was brought to Hanwell, the challenges she faces, how The Dodo gin was created during lockdown and winning Bar/Pub of The Year at the Be Inclusive Hospitality Spotlight Awards award.
The Dodo launched in January 2017, what were you doing before and how long did it take to set up and why did you choose Hanwell as your location?
Before launching The Dodo Micropub I spent over 14 years in marketing for publishing companies. I visited my first ever micropub in 2014 as your typical Londoner leaving the rat race for a weekend on the Kent Coast and immediately loved the concept of an unpretentious, welcoming, one room independent pub.
I was made redundant in August 2015 and that’s when the idea of bringing the micropub concept to West London (where I grew up and have pretty much always called home) became a reality. I contracted part time in marketing for a further year and a bit and worked on setting up The Dodo alongside this.
I initially looked at Northfields as it had an established high street but choose Hanwell for its community feel. The existing independents like the Golden Chip and W7 Emporium brought a certain charm to Boston Road and the friendliness of the people had the warmth that I knew would get behind a community focused pub concept.
What’s it like being the owner of The Dodo?
The last few years of being a pub owner have quite frankly been brutal. There’s a reason in the current climate the sector is witnessing 50 pubs closing per week. It’s been really tough to keep business thriving in the face of gigantic, unpredictable challenges and now obscene rising costs. You’re constantly adapting, adjusting, re-forecasting as there’s just no stability like the “good old days”. It’s a real roller coaster but thankfully the highs always out-weigh the lows.
What does winning Bar/Pub of The Year at the Be Inclusive Hospitality Spotlight Awards award mean to you? And how has diversity in the hospitality sector improved?
Winning the Bar / Pub of The Year at the Be Inclusive Hospitality Spotlight Awards is a real honour! It means a huge deal because it was a nominations process so I know there were lots of the Hanwell Massive getting behind this win! The fact that Andi Oliver (hero of mine) and all the other judges (huge peers in the hospitality sector) have now heard of The Dodo Micropub blows my mind!
The work that Be Inclusive Hospitality is doing is really important and very empowering for those who have typically been marginalised throughout their careers/lives. Diversity and equity in the hospitality sector still has a long way to go. Particularly in the pub sector but slowly there are steps in the right direction. Playing a small part in this movement and mission is a huge honour.
What is the biggest challenge you face in the hospitality sector and what help do you need from both the Council and Government?
The current biggest challenge is faced by the sector as a whole. Cost of living crisis means a reduction in people eating and drinking out and that is on top of the industry never fully recovering from the lower visitor numbers post pandemic. People often say to me “it’s always busy when we walk past” and I really wish that was true. Numbers on occasion return to pre-pandemic levels but there’s no pattern. We’ve recently closed Tuesdays as it was no longer viable to stay open given staffing and the rise of running costs. Energy is the main rise in costs that is often highlighted but really basic requirements have sky-rocketed too. Blue roll (essential part of all hospitality businesses) has risen by 137% compared to last year! Basic cost of running a business is really wild out there!
Hospitality is vulnerable. Recent reports state that more than a third of hospitality businesses are on the brink of closure and there were 2,230 hospitality business closures in the past 3 months alone so sadly the cliff edge is coming. The government needs to create sensible policy changes that puts us in line with our European neighbours in terms of VAT relief and energy cost capping. No one is asking for a handout. We all want to still be standing and serving people and our communities!
What are your plans for The Dodo, what expansion plans do you have in mind?
At the moment there are no immediate expansion plans as it’s very much about simply sustaining business at the moment. Slow growth is absolutely fine given everything that’s thwarted the industry! That said I’m always working on exciting collaborations and investigating pop up locations as a way to keep growing and keep things exciting. We’ve done a number of events recently that have taken us out of our physical space in Hanwell so lets see how 2023 pans out.
You also make your own gin and run, how is that going?
Both are going really well considering I don’t have a Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) license which means I can only sell it out of The Dodo so I’m my only form of distribution! The Dodo of Hanwell gin was a lockdown 2020 project and is a solid staple down the pub. We sold out of our first batch in 1 hour and 4 minutes and it’s remained popular since then.
The Dodo of Hanwell rum was launched earlier this year and seemed like a natural progression from our gin as I LOVE rum! It’s my favourite spirit and must always be a dark sipping rum with beautiful buttery, caramel notes! You could call it a dream come true project!
We’ve recently sold out of the rum but there’ll be another batch coming in time for Christmas. Alongside our once a year release of our winter spiced gin too.
The label design for all our spirits were created by the very talented and fellow Ealing based female in business, Charlotte Berridge Studio. So even if you’re not a fan of the spirits (but if you like gin and rum you will be) then you have a beautiful bottle for display at the very least.
You are all about being independent, what local brews are your favourite and popular at The DoDo?
Sadly, Hanwell lost Weird Beard Brew Co earlier this year. They were the original fire starters of the craft beer scene in West London and we had a brilliant collaboration beer with them called The Dodo. Still miss that beer but hope to see it back once they’re rocking and rolling in their new location.
Recently we’ve had a lot of Jawbone Brewing on. They’re based in Twickenham and fun fact Ben the owner used to work at Weird Beard and The Dodo pale ale was essentially his recipe and we brewed the first batch together. We’ve launched 2 collaboration beers this year, one with Park Brewery over in Kingston and the other with Elusive Brewing. Reflex, our west coast pale ale with Elusive Brewing won champion beer of Ealing Beer Festival this year so safe to say that was very popular!
How important is it to be part of the Hanwell community and take part in community events?
From day one it has always been about community. Creating a friendly environment where everyone is welcome. A space where conversation is encouraged as the main form of entertainment so people can form real connections.
This is one of the proudest parts of owning The Dodo – residents who’ve lived in Hanwell for over 10 years finally meeting their neighbours and having a friendship network in their home town, working with fellow local independent businesses on collaborations and partnerships so we all rise together.
Supporting small businesses with big hearts is what I’m passionate about! Collaboration is a key part of this passion.
The Dodo Micropub is located at: 52 Boston Road, Hanwell, London, W7 3TR.
Mon – Closed
Tue – Closed. Available for private hire & events.
Wed – 5pm – 10pm
Thu – 5pm – 10pm
Fri – 4pm – 10.30pm
Sat – 3pm – 10.30pm
Sun – 12pm – 5pm