Pitcher & Piano: The story of our first brand legend

If you’ve met any of the Piper team before, you will most likely already know the story of our first brand legend, Pitcher & Piano. Created in the 1986 by our founders, the popular bar-chain was a hospitality pioneer and became synonymous with a cool, welcoming and friendly place to socialise with your friends. We take these places for granted now, but back then it was a sad choice between a buttoned-up wine bar or a spit-and-sawdust pub. Pitcher & Piano was originally conceived to fill a gap in the market between these two, and to create the pub of the future.

The first site was in Fulham and drew crowds from day one. To many we speak to, the name evokes sentimentality. Some remember dancing on the tables, some meeting their future wife there.

We grew the brand nationwide before selling to Marston’s in 1996, where it still finds a home to this day. The brand typically took a standout building, including many old banks, which have kept the brand relevant over almost four decades. Go visit the Nottingham site, which used to be a magnificent church.

For a long time now, we’ve wanted to celebrate our origin story. It seems timely, now more than ever, to showcase how it championed innovation and growth in difficult times.

Harkening back to those days, the UK spent the early 80s and 90s in a deep recession with high inflation. In fact, now is the highest inflation since that time. Just as then, households are reducing non-essential spending and businesses are looking at a dramatic shift in business models and costs. We mention this not to be doom-mongers, but as a reminder that recovery does happen and businesses can thrive in adversity. Back then, as now, people continued to want to socialise with friends. In research that we recently conducted for Flat Iron, consumers told us that they are increasingly looking for great value for money and fun nights out. It is one of the last things people clamp down on.

We hope you enjoy the short animation we’ve put together. You can watch the full video here.

We commissioned the wonderfully talented Ukrainian refugee, Iryna Nikolaichyk, who left Ukraine last year to find safety in the UK and is trying to rebuild her career. Please get in touch with her if you need any graphics or animation work done.

If anyone would like to speak to us about our experiences growing brands through recessions, we’ve ridden out three recession so far! We know times are hard, but good times are not too distant. We believe that the greatest innovation happens in times like this. It’s when future brand legends are born and built.