Merlin Labron-Johnson to open wine bar and shop in Bruton
Chef-restaurateur Merlin Labron-Johnson will be opening a wine bar and shop in Bruton, just a few doors down from his restaurant Osip, in January 2021.
Named after the 16th-century building in which it is housed and inspired by the épiceries (groceries) of rural France, the Old Pharmacy will be open all day for coffees, lunches such as toasties and salads, provisions and, into the evening, wine, cider and small plates.
David Durban, who manages operations at Osip and previously worked as opening operations manager at Petersham Nurseries and opening general manager at Frenchie, both in London's Covent Garden, will work alongside Labron-Johnson on the project.
The Old Pharmacy's retail offering will highlight quality produce from the chef's favourite Somerset suppliers and seasonal produce grown by him at his nearby vegetable plots.
On offer will be Tamworth pig charcuterie, local dairy, farmhouse cheeses, pickles and preserves. Dry store goods will also include locally milled flours, organic grains, and items from further afield such as Calabrian anchovies or freshly pressed olive oil from Sicily. Selected wines will be available to buy by the bottle, with some poured from the tap and available for refills.
Labron-Johnson said: " The Old Pharmacy feels like a natural progression from Osip. At the restaurant we let the home-grown, seasonal ingredients shine, so I wanted the Old Pharmacy to continue in this vein and allow locals and visitors alike to be able to take home the same produce we use at the restaurant just a few doors down."
The Old Pharmacy building will be renovated by Bruton residents Rebecca McClelland and Chris Roberts to be transformed into a communal space of wellness, with a focus on art, design and medicine.
The site will also feature a photographic print gallery, house naturopaths and herbalists, and spaces dedicated to yoga, creative masterclasses and McClelland and Roberts' ‘slow art' project, the Bruton Correspondence School.
Labron-Johnson opened Osip in November 2019, having previously worked as executive chef of the Woodhead Restaurant Group, which included the Michelin-starred Portland and Clipstone in London.