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Lee and Keris De Villiers FBII

The Ram, Wandsworth

There are some licensees who seem to instinctively know just what it takes to run an amazing pub business. Keris and Lee De Villiers are two such people. BII’s Molly Davis caught up with them at the opening of their latest, and dare we say, greatest venture – The Ram, in Wandsworth.

Pubs, as we know, mean many different things to many different people, but there are few licensees who manage to cram a more diverse and yet welcoming offer into their venues than Keris and Lee. Long term champions of the BII, they have been finalists in our Licensee of the Year competition no less than three times and plan to enter for the lucky fourth once they have been in their newest pub, The Ram, for two years.

Historically important is an understatement for this pub, with records showing The Ram being on the same site since 1533. It became part of the Young’s family in 1831, and was The Brewery Tap until 2006 when the operation moved to Bedford. Now restored with a tasteful mix of Young’s heritage and the De Villiers’ signature colourful décor, The Ram is a fantastic venue in the heart of Wandsworth.

As we have seen from so many of our successful members, the key to thriving and not just surviving in an industry full of challenges, is the ability to diversify your offer and attract a whole host of customers. The Ram certainly does that, but has boldly chosen to be an adults only venue. Keris explains, “Our other pubs, The Old Sergeant and the Pig and Whistle are perfect family friendly pubs, whether it be for Sunday lunch together, or popping in for a coffee with friends. We wanted to make The Ram a child free pub – not to appeal to a different customer necessarily, but to give that same customer a different experience. We want them to get a babysitter and enjoy a leisurely dinner together, or maybe celebrate with friends over frozen Margaritas – The Ram is the perfect place for that.”

The pub itself feels very authentic and traditional on the ground floor, but the hint of something different on the staircase leads up to the surprise that is “Inside Out”.

Carpeted entirely with fake grass, you will feel like you’re outside a Caribbean bar…if that bar comes with shuffleboard that is. The look and feel is complete with a fully restored vintage Taco Truck called Jean Pierre! The space is used for weekend cocktails, private functions and there are even plans afoot for Yoga classes.

“We went to the Ram Pub Co (the tenanted arm of Young’s) with our vision for what we wanted to do here, and were delighted that they were on board for all of our ideas. They have been extremely supportive, even though we were aware that getting a full sized truck onto the 1st floor of a listed building was asking a lot!”

That support has been hard-earned though, as Keris and Lee have proven themselves time and time again to be the cream of the crop when it comes to licensees. They have also passed that knowledge onto their teams and now leave the Pig and Whistle in the capable hands of Karolina , Georgie and Issy, whilst The Old Sergeant is run by Bronwyn – all of whom have trained underneath them.

Not content with the challenge of taking on a third venue, they also now have an additional string to their bows with SlyBeast Brewing – their very own on-site brewery venture with Keris’ brother-in-law and Lee taking the helm. The name comes from the family’s pet dogs, Sly and Beast, who can be seen in the pub from time to time, and instead of hiding the brewing process away in the cellar, the glass walls within the heart of the pub let everyone see the beer being created at source!

With the addition of Lee’s passion for great Tequila, the support they give to local sports clubs in the community and the excellent food served across all of their pubs, any visit to the De Villier’s venues will be one to remember. 

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