Taking over the family business eight years ago, Jon Blyth is now the proud owner of Sneinton hotspot The King Billy. Dedicated to community and inclusion, he tells all about how the pub fell to him and why he loves his job…
The King Billy has been in the family for fifteen years. My dad has run pubs in and around Sneinton since the late seventies, and he bought King Billy around the time I left for London to pursue my writing dreams. Then, after eight years, I said I would help to run it. My sister-in-law had just stepped down and I didn’t want my dad to sell the Billy to a big company. So, me and my dad ran the pub together until 2017 when he passed away, and I’ve been doing it on my own since.
We love being independent, because it means we can get whatever customers want, rather than having to sell Greene King IPA, for example. We try to sell from places that we know and love, like Black Iris and more recently Totally Brewed.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work. When I came back to Nottingham I didn’t have grey hair, and my beard went completely grey within the first year because of panic. The pub wasn’t that busy then and I was a forty-year-old who had just moved back in with his parents. But luckily, year-on-year it just got better and I was able to support myself and pay our staff good wages. We are very much above the living wage in our place.
I’m now really proud of the pub, and in terms of the community, we have a crowd of people who we recognise. We really grew our community feel during lockdown because of our pizza and beer deliveries, during which time everyone was desperate for contact. Now we have a whole range of characters, some of whom are eccentric, in a great way, and who really make the Billy such a sociable place.
We’re on the border of where the Creative Quarter turns into Sneinton, so it’s nice to have both groups here. I was brought up around pubs in Sneinton and it’s great to be tied into that. But equally I love that we get the artists and the students along with the old school Sneintonites. We are very big on being inclusive, and so have some amazing gay and trans people who feel comfortable with us too. That’s really important to me. I love seeing a diverse group of people in the pub, and I want everyone to feel comfortable walking in.
The King Billy is located on 6 Eyre Street, Sneinton
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