London & South East Premier Hospitality

Bringing The Cross Keys back to life

Written by Roma Publications


The Cross Keys, located in Chelsea, is now open following an extensive refurbishment scheme to bring the historic building a new lease of life.

Publicans Mark Dyer and Eamonn Manson of DM group, the duo behind Fulham pubs The Sands End and The Brown Cow, have restored the iconic 80 cover pub.

Located between the King’s Road and Cheyne Walk, The Cross Keys has been part of the Chelsea community for over 300 years. Opening in 1708, it fast became a well-known institution serving the likes of Dylan Thomas, Agatha Christie, Bob Marley and the Rolling Stones. When the pub closed in 2012, following a short term ownership by Andrew Bourne, The Cross Keys attracted large-scale media attention when squatters took over the unused building.

Much to the delight of the Chelsea community, a local campaign to overturn the planning application for a residential complex was successfully won, allowing DM Group to come on board and return their local pub to its former glory.

Premier Hospitality caught up with Eamonn Manson, one of the Directors of the DM Group who owns the venue, to find out more. Eamonn commented:
“It has been a very rewarding project; bringing Chelsea and Kensington’s oldest pub back into operation and giving it back to the community. The Cross Keys is thought of very highly by a lot of people in West London.


“Our pubs quite simply follow an ethos of attention to the important details of service, food and ambience. We want customers to walk into the new Cross Keys regardless of whether it’s to sit quietly with a pint, a Scotch egg and newspaper or to visit with friends and family to sample an excellently cooked meal in our main dining room.”

Works began on site in October 2014 with the doors being opened to the public on the 5th of March. DM Group acted as the main contractor and designer on the scheme and so tackled most of the project as an in-house team, with Fuse Design & Build acting as the project managers. Eamonn acted as the project designer in a bid to create a contemporary pub feel with a smattering of period features.

The DM Group have recreated their trademark rustic country pub vibe whilst maintaining a number of the pub’s original features, including a wood burning fire and exposed brick walls.

Adding to its character, handpicked antiques such as original 18th Century Portuguese panelling and a scattering of early 19th Century Parisian street lamps, give the pub an aged look and feel.

On entering The Cross Keys, which also preserves the original façade, a traditional u-shaped oak bar made with reclaimed fruit and vegetable wood boxes follows familiar DM Group designs found throughout their other sites. At the rear, antique mirrors and cosy chocolate-brown banquettes run along the back wall of the dining room, whilst above a vast skylight floods the space with natural light.


Works on site involved the team completely gutting the space back to the breeze blocks of the building as well as removing the roof entirely. The five storey building now comprises The Cross Keys across the basement and ground floors and residential units on the first, second and third floor.

The basement now comprises a small function room, the venue’s kitchen, a staff area, a cellar and office space.

The menu at The Cross Keys has been devised by Head Chef Natasha Cooke, previously Sous Chef at Chelsea’s Michelin-starred Medlar, with support from DM Group Executive Chef, Oliver Marlowe. Quality ingredients will be used to create dishes suitable for all occasions, from traditional British pub classics to innovative, seasonal plates with European influences.

For those who prefer to sit at the bar, The Cross Keys will offer an array of bar snacks including the group’s signature Scotch Egg, Sausage roll and Welsh rarebit. The dining menu features starters such as Warm cured sea trout with toasted quinoa, pickled fennel and crème fraiche and Rabbit ravioli with carrot and cumin puree, broad beans, mustard and pea shoots. Main courses include Confit lamb belly with potato gratin, turnip puree, onion rings and salsa Verde; and Cornish mussels with ‘nduja, leeks and samphire, alongside more traditional and simple dishes of Oxtail and Stout Pie and Ale battered hake and chips.


For diners with a sweet tooth the dessert menu features a mouthwatering selection of puds including Lemon tart with blackberry sorbet and homemade vanilla yoghurt with rhubarb and ginger compote.

A range of cask ales, fine lager and craft beers are also available along with a wine list that focuses on accessibly priced bottles from wine estates around the globe.


fuse design+build


fuse design+build specialise in the delivery of commercial and residential property refurbishment, from fast-track fit-out projects for restaurants, pubs and bars to cafes and offices in and around London. In addition, fuse offer property maintenance and facilities management for clients to maintain their sites on an ongoing preventative and reactive basis with regards to fire, security, electrical and mechanical and general maintenance.

fuse’s most recent project was the iconic Metal Box Factory at London Bridge. The project involved the refurbishment of the building’s ground floor including the main reception, club workspace and the Metal Box café restaurant and kitchen.

Working on The Cross Keys project, fuse was appointed to act on behalf of the new owners of The Cross Keys to project manage the fit out programme, working closely with all relevant parties involved to ensure project deliverables were achieved with regards to safety, quality, programme and cost. fuse was responsible for managing and allocating resources to deliver the build project of the two storey pub and provide project plans, comprehensive briefings and specifications for all specialists involved. By providing the right expertise with a dedicated team of highly skilled carpenters, mechanical and electrical engineers, flooring experts and decorators, fuse was able to compliment the in-house team and execute a tightly run programme ready to reopen the doors of the iconic pub.

Lee Heath, Managing Director of fuse design+build, said:

“The Cross Keys has an incredible history and a large and loyal following so we are very proud to be a part of reopening the doors to this 300 year old pub. DM Group have got a fantastic reputation and their award-winning gastropubs are synonymous with a contemporary style and rustic charm which is exactly what we wanted to emulate in building their latest addition to the portfolio.”

Lee said:

“At fuse design+build, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and quality of workmanship. With our focused and accurate project management and our highly experienced and dedicated team, we are able to offer clients a flexible solution tailored to their requirements to complete a successful refurbishment project in the set timeframe. We can deliver either the full design and build turnkey solution or work closely with in-house teams to meet set design and performance specifications. We know what it takes to meet tight deadlines and organise and run a fast-track programme successfully.”

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Roma Publications

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