Food & Drink

Husband and wife duo delighted as The Sultan is nominated for award

The owners of  a popular Wimbledon pub have vowed to continue building a strong community presence after being nominated for the Time Out Love London Awards for Most Loved Pub.

The Sultan, on Norman Road, is one of nine pubs owned by Hop Back Brewery and has been run by husband-and-wife team Steve and Helen Tribbel since 2015.

Mrs Tribbel, 35, was grateful that they were allowed, within reason, to run the pub as if it were their own and believes they have gained so many votes because of the personal touch they provide.

She said: “As long as we’re not doing crazy techno raves or something which just doesn’t fit with the pub.

“We’ve got so many regulars who we know by name and who know us, so it’s that real sense of community that’s bringing everyone together, and I think that’s what it’s going back to.”

Along with the seven pumps serving Hop Back Brewery and guest beer, the Sultan also offers its clientele a wide range of events, including a very popular pub quiz, live music and two beer festivals per year.

Mr Tribbel, 36, said: “We’ve got a really broad range of ages and diversity as well in the pub.

“We’ve got people coming in here on Friday night who you would assume would probably want to go up to Clapham and go dancing or something like that.”

The Sultan is joined on the Love London nominees list by fellow Merton venue Coffee in the Wood, up for most loved cafe, and Battersea nightclub Bunga Bunga, up for most loved late-night spot.

The building how hosting the Sultan has had a pub onsite since 1870, and since being rebuilt in 1954 after being bombed the second world war, has largely retained its original layout and character.

On the changing face of the beer industry, Mrs Tribbel said: “The way that people drink is completely changed.

“The sort of traditional pubs like this started on the decline when the really big pubs opened that aren’t really pubs, they’re just a big space to get drunk in.”

Alongside with the two bars, the Sultan also has an upstairs function room, which is hired out to diverse groups ranging from the Merton LGBT Forum, Holy Trinity Church group ‘God In The Pub’ and local chapters of the major political parties.

For Mr Tribbel, being involved with the local community is one of his favourite aspects of the job.

“The act of drinking and going to a pub is something I like, but I also recognise what an important role they play in British culture.” he said.

Mr Tribbel said he liked being part of major events in people’s lives, from regulars bringing in their new babies to sharing information throughout the community.

To illustrate the pub’s impact on the community, Mrs Tribbel highlighted a recent event organised by a trans woman that opened up a discussion among the regulars.

On whether the topic was controversial among the pub’s diverse clientele, Mrs Tribbel said: “They all know our stance if we ever hear anything, [for example] when we first got here we had to bar someone because of racism.

We’re just not going to have it in here, it is not okay.

“We want everyone who comes here to feel comfortable.”

Both are committed to keeping up the traditional character of the Sultan but still taking into accounts changing demographics.

Mrs Tribbel said: “A lot of young people don’t drink regularly, so they’re not going to come in every day like the older generation.

“You sort of need to give them a reason to come in”

Voting on the Time Out Love London awards closes on Wednesday April 10.

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