By Emily G. Peters
Old Town Monrovia has been enjoying something of a renaissance the last few years, and London Gastropub is right at the center of it. Sophisticated with a divey edge, this pub has become one of the most popular spots for a brew in Monrovia.
“Like a lot of people I always wanted to run my own restaurant, but the timing just wasn’t right,” said Jim Read, owner of London Gastropub. While the economic downturn in 2009 would seem like a risky year to open a new business, Read had to jump on the space when it became available on Myrtle Avenue.
“My focus was always to open a spot in Monrovia,” said Read, who officially opened the pub in 2010. “The rest is history.”
History, in fact, is what gives the pub its distinct personality.
“I told the architect I’d like London to be modeled like one of those pubs overseas that’s been there a hundred years,” said Read, whose aim was for a relaxed ambiance. “The actual back bar was designed from an old English pub in London.”
As charming as the old world may be, this is still Los Angeles—and the food reflects that. The menu is decidedly international, with everything from award-winning fish and chips to taco Tuesdays to pozole, and all of it delicious. From the bar, Read keeps things interesting with both local and old school beers on London Gastropub’s ever-changing 32 draft beer list.
“For a classic beer, you have to go with the Old Speckled Hen on nitro draft, it’s amazing. If not that, try one of the local IPAs,” recommended Read. “We also have an outstanding whiskey selection along with craft cocktails and barrel aged cocktails.”
Like any cozy pub, the ambience would not be complete without an attentive staff. Read leans on their involvement and views them as the leading figures in his business.
“I have some that have been with me since the day we opened eight years ago,” he said. “They are everything when it comes to the experience. They bring a sense of ‘localness’ and our customers feel that immediately.”
That relaxed camaraderie often distinguishes San Gabriel Valley bars from the rest of those in LA County. London Gastropub’s audience consists almost entirely of neighborhood locals—something Read highly values.
“I love to hear when people from way out of town are coming in, but it’s the local community that’s the life blood of the pub. They have responded with open arms and have been more loyal to us than I ever could have dreamed,” he said. “They’re some of the best people I have ever met in my life and I value their friendships as much as friends I’ve known for more than 30 years.”
With their eight year anniversary behind them and Saint Patrick’s Day party around the bend, it’s a good time for London Gastropub to be a part of Monrovia’s flourishing small business scene.
“Small business makes the world go round,” said Read. “I’m blessed to be a part of this community.”