Despite the challenges faced by food and drink businesses over the past couple of years, the dining and drinking scene of Worthing has seen a host of exciting new shops, restaurants and bars open on the high street, typically driven by entrepreneurs with a passion for all things Sussex and an optimism for the future of the town.
One of the leading lights is Tom Flint, owner of Bottle & Jug Dept on South Farm Road near Worthing Station. Already a well-known face on the local food scene due to his extensive food and drink writing, Tom took the plunge and opened his own craft beer and wine shop in 2018 and earlier this month celebrated his 4th year of trading.
“Bottle & Jug Dept came about from my experience working with John and Aaron at the Brooksteed Alehouse”, said Tom.
"We could see that Worthing was changing and there was a fantastic local beer scene. We wanted to create a bottle shop where people could pick up beers from independent breweries to enjoy at home; a place for people to discover new breweries and generally explore different beer styles”.
Wine is also important to Tom however he didn’t want to compete with the established offering of other local vintners and supermarkets.
"I wanted to champion natural and minimal intervention wines which had become something I was very passionate about. The ethos was all about celebrating small independent producers who place quality and sustainability at the core of their business”.
Although the heart of Tom’s commercial model has remained the same, as with any enterprise faced with the challenges of recent years, he’s tweaked around the edges to respond to his customer’s wants around product range and needs in terms of online ordering and home delivery.
“We’ve had a bigger shift to supporting local breweries in the past couple years over some of the bigger national craft breweries. We also introduced a proper e-commerce website and our own beer and natural wine subscription service. More recently we’ve had ‘drink-in’ weekends for events and this is something we want to look at doing more regularly as it allows us to connect with customers much more directly and show off products in a different way”.
As an active member of the Worthing food and drink community, Tom is ever-keen to partner with like-minded businesses.
“Worthing continues to go from strength-to-strength and the recent Tap Takeover beer festival weekend showed what we could achieve when we work together. Next week, we’ll be participating in a Jubilee Street Party with Brooksteed Ale House on Sunday 5 June 2022”.
“There’s a fantastic Independent Worthing group bringing together lots of different businesses and their monthly markets on South Farm Road are not to be missed. Slake Spirits have recently relocated here and I have been speaking to head distiller Tom about ways we can collaborate”.
“It is an exciting time for Worthing. The number of food trucks and events popping up all over town seems to be never-ending at the moment: Worthing is definitely the place to be this summer”.
Bottle & Jug Dept, 21 South Farm Road, Worthing BN14 7AD
07552 164 518 • www.bottleandjugdept.co.uk