You know, it's probably about time we explained what exactly Buster Mantis is. Apologies, it's been a manic time, as you can imagine. Here: hopefully, the above photograph on its own will answer some of the many questions about that amazing location we’ve been promising. After far too long spent searching for the perfect premises in the perfect place, this photograph shows the dusty old warehouse that will soon be our bar.
And it’s pretty damn big.
As for the other questions, let’s do a few more of the basics…
WHAT’S WITH THE NAME
Growing up in Jamaica, back in the good old days when its money was still worth something, our one dollar bill was emblazoned with the image of a fine gentleman named Sir Alexander Bustamante. He was our country’s first prime minister, and an instrumental figure in establishing its independence. Buster Mantis is named after him.
We think it’s pretty fitting.
WHAT AND WHERE
Buster Mantis will be a bar, café and creative space. It is located in a warehouse unit underneath the platforms of Deptford rail station in south London, spread over two grade II listed railway arches along the oldest stretch of track in the country. As it’s in two separate arches, we thought we would try to be a bit clever and take advantage of its layout. So:
The first arch will be the bar and dining space. We’ve spent a long time designing and perfecting a menu of some of the best Jamaican food our island has to offer, from staples like the marinaded meats in our signature smoky jerk recipe, to rewards for the more adventurous with seasonal smaller plates of specially sourced, slightly more obscure and exotic offerings maybe not so often found on these shores. We take this part seriously: Jamaicans might well be known for being all hilarious, all easygoing and all that other nonsense, but we simply do not have the slightest sense of humour when it comes to our food. We will not disappoint. Done talk.
Adding to that, we’ve got a selection of local and international beers, freshly-brewed coffee, a clever little wine list, cocktails and our own deceptively, almost dangerously strong house rum punch. Please drink responsibly.
The other arch will house that admittedly ambiguous-sounding 'creative space': this will be an open area suitable for art exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, pop-ups, whatever. For this, we aspire to have something new and intriguing happening in there every time you visit. We have many exciting ideas, have heard many suggestions, and are willing to listen to many more. Our idea is to give the occasional platform to creative and talented local people who may not always have the means or connections to acquire a proper space of their own. Buster Mantis isn’t a project by some faceless company, we’re a local family who love our area and the people in it. If you have an idea yourself and want to work together in the coming months, just pitch it to us – big or small, sensible or stupid – as long as you can make it interesting and it won’t get us arrested and deported like that last time, we’re listening.
We’d almost say the creative space is the most exciting part of the whole project but, you know, rum and jerk chicken was always gonna win that one, wasn’t it?
WHO AND WHY
My name is Gordon. I was born ten minutes down the road from Buster Mantis, and now live ten minutes up the road the other way. Between then and now, I was raised from baby to young man in a rainy little Jamaican mountain town called Mandeville, most famous for our lovely golf course and a huge reddish brown pool of chemical waste called the Mud Lake. I eventually moved back to south London as a teen and found it all very posh in comparison, to be honest. Couldn't really get good Jamaican food though.
We're doing this project because my friends and I have wanted somewhere new in which to hang out round here for a few years, so I decided to just make it myself. I’ve roped in help from my family and a few friends, and between us we’re doing the majority of the work ourselves, from design to building, from the ground up. So when we’re finally done, if you think the place looks awful, please don’t hurt our feelings, man. Words hurt.
We are aiming to be open by Christmas 2015 at the latest, but you know that cliché about Jamaicans and lateness so we’ll just have to see. In the meantime, drop us your email on the homepage and we'll stay in touch. We’ve got no money for any of that fancy British ‘advertising’ or anything like that, so we would appreciate you liking and sharing this post with your friends and fam via the social media pages linked below. There may be a free tap water in it for you (times is hard).
See you in a couple months.
The Buster Mantis team