Published on April 2, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour


Peep through the blindfold

Without delving too much into the whys and wherefores, the Blind Pig was another name for a US Prohibition-era illicit drinking den. Often also referred to as a speakeasy, it would sell moonshine – high-proof, illegally-distilled spirits. Put all this together and you have Tynemouth’s newest pub, the Blind Pig.

“We wanted to call it either the Blind Pig or Blind Tiger,” says Stephen Bones who, with his wife Victoria, owns the tiny and perfectly formed speakeasy inside the Land of Green Ginger shopping complex in Tynemouth.

“Both names mean similar things, but Blind Pig sounded better for what we wanted it to be. It’s going really well; we’ve only been open a few weeks and weren’t sure which way it would go.”

It’s actually going so well that Victoria has had to compile a job vacancy advert. Inadvertently, she touches on one of the meanings of “speakeasy”.

She says: “When you have a small place like this, people are almost forced to talk to each other (speak easy?). In fact, last weekend two groups started talking and ended up going off to the other bars together and exchanging numbers. They had a great time and are coming back again to meet up.”

Stephen enjoys real ale but feels the pub is too small to give it the constant attention it deserves, so he has concentrated on what is quite simply a terrific range of locally-sourced and American-style craft keg, bottles and cans. A mixologist has created bespoke moonshine cocktails.

“People in the business have been a great help,” he says. “Firebrick Brewery, Anarchy and Mordue have looked after us loads. It’s all about building relationships.

“From the start, we wanted it to look like a proper pub, not a pop-up. Being a joiner, I had to do it to a high standard, else I’d get grief.”

The Blind Pig certainly feels like it has always been there – handsome, solid counter with lovely shelving behind, high-backed upholstered pew-style seating, and high poseur tables by the window. The communal area on Green Ginger’s ground floor is used as an extended lounge for the pub and next-door Alfie & Fin’s Gin Bar.

Land of Green Ginger services include a pet shop, surfing-inspired and vintage clothing, jewellery, gifts, shoes, sweets, accessories, hairdressing and barbering. Stephen and Victoria are about to open a pie shop there as well, to complement the Pie & Bottle Shop they run in North Shields (for which they won a national street food award last year). The emphasis will be slightly different, but there’s no doubt it’ll be a huge success.

Victoria says: “We’re all working together in here. The shoe shop sold loads of pairs of last Saturday afternoon – customers were trying on shoes while they were having a drink.”

The Blind Pig has started a real tiger economy.

The Blind Pig, Land of Green Ginger, Front Street, Tynemouth NE30 4BP.

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Alastair Gilmour

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