Interview: Tristan Scutt, Founder of Deptford Institution Little Nan’s Bar
A 21st Century Deptford institution which places community at the heart of everything it does, Little Nan’s Bar is one of the local wonders which has put Deptford on the cultural map.
We talk all things Little Nan’s, the charms of Deptford, markets, cocktails and (of course) Things To Do in London!
Hey Tristan, thanks for joining us for a chat! Could you start by introducing yourself and the Little Nan’s phenomenon for the (sadly) uninitiated?
Hey! Hope you well. I am Grandson Tristan, Deptford local, previous Pub Manager of Deptford Arms, the New Cross Inn and The Cavendish Arms, and now the owner and founder of Little Nan’s Bar – which I opened up in the windowless backroom of my favourite club on Deptford Broadway over TEN Years ago, in honour of my late Little Nan JoJo, using all her furniture and crockery. Over the years we have toured the bar all around London, popping up in all corners of our capital, until moving under the Arches in Deptford Market Yard 7 years ago. We Love Deptford so much!
We’ve been big fans of the Little Nan’s vibe since the first venue on Deptford Broadway. How central is Deptford – and SE London more generally – to what makes Little Nan’s so special?
Thank you for the support over the years! Deptford and SE London is really central to what we do. I used to run the Deptford Arms back in 2007-2010, and have been involved in so many of the community events over the years – so when I wanted to open up a bar in honour of my late Little Nan JoJo, it was a no brainer to do it in Deptford. When we first launched on Valentines Day 2013 on Deptford Broadway, Deptford was a very very very different place back then! We were the only cocktail bar in the whole area, and there was literally nobody walking the streets. People thought I was mad to choose Deptford to open up my bar, but it’s where I am from and live, so it couldn’t have been anywhere else! I was genuinely really shocked when guests started pouring in, and what was meant to be a three month pop-up for a bit of fun to honour my late Nan, has now been going for 10 years, moved locations, and our lovely guests have followed us. We love being involved in the Deptford community, and it’s mad how the area has changed so much over the short ten years that we have been going.
What have you learned – about Little Nan’s, or about the area – from your seven years in situ in the Deptford Arches?
We’ve been in the Arches for seven years now, can you believe it?! We have learned since moving into the Arches, that in business there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the home that your business operates from. We love being involved in the Deptford Market Yard, and with the Deptford community, but we have learned that you can never really be sure what your landlord has planned for the future, and at the end of the day, the future of the Deptford Market Yard is up to our landlords. We hope to be part of that future, but you can never really know. We just keep doing what we’re doing, out of pure love for the area that we are from.
What’s changed or changing in Deptford, and how do we make sure it doesn’t lose its unique charm and personality?
A lot has changed in Deptford over the years. Mainly the people who have moved into the area, who would never have stepped foot in Deptford a few years ago. I remember in the OG Little Nan’s back in 2014, we had a group from Hackney book in for a girls birthday, and us working were saying how strange that she’s come from Hackney to Deptford – but fast forward a few years and it’s not so bizarre no more.
I think it’s important that local business still operate, and the mixing pot of all types of people, cultures, and ages are looked after when it comes to what’s being offered, and not just looking after the ‘cool’ peeps who live in, or visit, Deptford. Everyone should be welcome everywhere, that’s what gives Deptford its unique charm and personality.
What’s your favourite Little Nan’s cocktail, and why?
The ‘Deptford is Well Cool’ – so back in September 2022, Time Out named Deptford as the Coolest High Street in the whole of the UK, and named Little Nan’s as the number 1 bar to visit! So funny ha! They asked me to name a cocktail and create the ingredients, and they shot a video for their webiste. So I thought the name would be funny, as when I first launched Little Nan’s in 2013, or when we moved into the Arches back in 2016, Deptford was most definitely not seen as cool! In honour of Deptford’s maritime and world trading history, this best seller features white rum, dark rum, spice rum, coconut rum, cherry syrup, mango, lime, lemon, orange, pineapple juice. It’s a delight, and very cool ha.
The Carless Carboot is such a special Deptford institution, alongside the regular high street market – how important is it to you, to provide such a friendly, supportive space for independent traders to hawk their wares?
SO important! We have hosted this amazing community event since 2017, with a two year break due to lockdowns, and it’s great to see so many of the local people come to shop and buy. Obviously I am a HUGE fan of the Deptford Market, my fave place in the whole world, and I have often said that I feel that this market (one of Londons oldest and longest running, popping up in various different locations over the years) is the beating heart of Deptford.
I wanted to do something which was different, and compliments the Deptford Market, so I came up with the Little Nan’s Deptford Carless Carboot, where anyone local can pop along to sell their wares, from vintage, to lovely colourful flowers, to crafts, to crockery, and everything in-between.
What’s coming up in Little Nan’s world? Anything we should make sure to lodge firmly in our diaries?
For now it’s about stability, and making sure we are around to keep our guests fed and watered, and entertained. In the Arches we have different Landlords, one different for each of our 2 Arches. It’s easier to plan for one of our Arches as the landlords are happy to offer longer leases, and are much more transparent about their plans for us, so we can make proper future goals etc. For the other Arch it’s much harder to plan for the future, as our landlord only offers very short leases, and their plans have changed quite sporadically over the years. It can be very unnerving and unsettling at times, it’s really difficult to run a business this way, but we try our best! We just hope we are able to stay in Deptford, and able to spoil our lovely guests as much and as long as possible.
What are your favourite things to do elsewhere, in Deptford, London and beyond? (Places to eat, drink, think, party, chill etc..)
Well, my Party Party Deptford Army days are long gone now, and to chill you can often find me in the workshop making or decorating something fun, which is then usually used as a prop or piece of interest displayed in Little Nan’s Bar.
I LOVE a Thames River path walk, and try and get a Deptford to Tower Bridge and back, or Deptford to Woolwich and back, walk in at least once a week.
Fave places to eat have remained the same for years and years for me! Viet Rest, Good Friends Chinese, Tea House Chinese, Perfecto Fish and Chips, LFC Chicken shop. All in Deptford, all stunning. And further a field, Maggies Cafe in Lewisham, is the absolute BEST!
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.