Q&A with The Golden Eagle

Q&A with Gina Vernon, Owner of The Golden Eagle

Have you always worked in pubs?

Yes. I was born on the Isle of Wight. My parents had bars and then mum had a hotel, so I was brought up in the trade. This is all I know, I guess it’s in my blood.

What makes a great pub?

The people. This is a very small pub, so we’re lucky in that way. We’ve gotten to know our customers and they like to come in for a good chat. It’s like family—to me, anyway. 

How long have you been the landlady here?

For 32 years, The Golden Eagle is a traditional, family-run pub. Gary the manager has been here all that time. My son Jack was born upstairs and now works behind the bar, as did my daughter Holly during her university days. And we have our regulars. We’re part of the village if you like. Though Marylebone has changed over the years we like to think we’re still the same. People actually say to us: “Please don’t ever change your pub.” Back in the day, you had the Black Horse on the high street and a pub where Caldesi is now. We all knew one another and would help each other out if we ran out of change or needed to borrow a bottle of vodka. We were proper neighbours, we would roll a barrel up the street if one of us had run out of Guinness or something.

The Golden Eagle does have quite a unique feel…

That’s because we’ve kept it as a proper pub. We don’t serve food anymore because there are so many restaurants and cafes in the area, and we’re so small there’s no real place to sit and eat. So it’s just drinks.

And how good is the beer?

10 out of 10, definitely. We’ve had CAMRA people in and we’ve been in their book. We pride ourselves on our real ales. We always have four: the Tribute and the Pride are regular, then we have two guest ales that change once a month. People come back time and again saying that our Tribute is the best anywhere. We get lots of compliments, touch wood that continues.

Who drinks here?

We still have a handful of locals who drink here regularly, but trade has changed over the years. We are much busier than we used to be, which is great. We now get office workers, shoppers, hotel guests—a huge mixture of different people. 

Any famous faces?

British singer, Engelbert Humperdinck, loves it in here. Sean Pertwee’s been in, Dermot O’Leary, Les Dennis and the guy who plays Roy Cropper in Coronation Street. There are so many. Years ago we used to get Hughie Green and John Inman.

The Golden Eagle is known for its sing-alongs…

We originally came here as managers for Marylebone Taverns. The pub had been closed—I think it had been a gay bar previously—and when we reopened it we didn’t have a piano. But people kept coming in and asking about it, so we had to pass it back to Marylebone Taverns. We said: “You’ve got to get that piano back because people have got the raging hump.” So they did. And here we are, still with the piano. People come from far and wide. The singers come back time and again. They get other people to join in and before you know it half the pub is singing. It’s brilliant.

What do you like about living in Marylebone?

I feel safe with the children growing up here. It’s just a lovely place to live. We’re very lucky to live in Marylebone Village.

What’s the best thing about being a pub landlady?

I guess it’s the social side of things. I can’t imagine living in a little private house somewhere and not seeing people every day. I only have to come downstairs and I’ve got loads of people to chat to and have a laugh with, I love that!

Having your own pub sounds like everyone’s dream.

It’s hard work—24 hours a day, seven days a week as we live upstairs. We have no separate entrance, and a lot of people wouldn’t like that, but that doesn’t bother me in the least. I come down and just enjoy it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.


Follow The Golden Eagle to keep up to date with their upcoming events and guest ales: @TheGoldenEagleW1