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How I fell in love with pub culture

Alison Boutoille, setting up discount packs for independent pubs

It’s already been 3 years since I arrived in London!

It was the middle of the pandemic, I was full of expectations to discover a new culture and ready to embrace a new life. Working then for a global tech group, I didn’t expect to be dealing with beer mats and fighting for something so core to English culture: independent pubs!

Whilst things were slowly opening and coming back to ‘normal’, I discovered and fell in love with pub culture.

“You don’t have that in France, do you?” - I was asked. At first, I thought I did and mentioned the French ‘bars’ and ‘brasseries’. But the more time I spent in pubs, the more I realised that nowhere else could you find places considered as an extension of their living room by locals, as much as here.

In days when so many are feeling increasingly lonely, I realised how important these places, dedicated to gathering, were for people.

But I was heart-broken to see the dramatic number of closures occurring every week. Like a dying tradition.

The decrease in revenues caused by Londoners' budgeting less towards going out, combined with the increase in operating costs, results in a serious challenge to keep hospitality businesses running.  While big chains may be well-equipped to weather the current economic situation, it’s much harder for independent businesses to stay afloat.

I decided to put my marketing skills to use and help with a unique Christmas gift idea to support independent pubs and enable Londoners to socialise within their budget: CityStack, a stack of beer mats that lets you get £100 worth of food and drink at independent pubs. 

In 2021, we launched the first collection with 10 fantastic pubs, and thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, we allowed hundreds of pub lovers to discover and support these gems whilst saving money. The feedback, both from the pubs and the users has been fantastic!

Since then, more independent community locals have shown interest in joining the initiative. I spent the last few months visiting hundreds of independent pubs to select some of the best ones to be part of our unique collection. CityStack now offers pub lovers the opportunity to explore a selection of over 50 independent hidden gems across London!

Now, CityStack has…

✅ 50+ independent pubs in our collection

✅ Thousands of pub lovers discovering and supporting our selection of gems whilst saving money

✅ Hundreds of thousands of pounds distributed to spend at pubs through our stacks of beer mats

✅ Several mentions in major media such as Time Out, Metro, Southwark, MyLondon and FRANCE 24

Let's go to independent pubs!

Alison Boutoille, Founder of CityStack


You don’t know what CityStack is? It’s the perfect Christmas gift for pub lovers: this £25 stack of beer mats lets you get £100 to spend at outstanding independent London pubs!

This initiative aims to support and promote great independent pubs and helps pub lovers socialise within their budget.

In each pack, you'll find a special beer mat that gives you £100 worth of food and drink. Show it at any ten of the 50+ pubs handpicked by the CityStack team, and have it stamped to get £10 off £20+ spend. Collect 10 stamps to save £100!

Each pack provides a fun experience too, including a map and a stack of collectible informative beer mats to learn more about a fantastic selection of London pubs.

Stack of orange coasters on a bar counter, next to black and white square box with 'london pubs collection' written on it, with 'city stack' written on the bottom right corner of the box, orange coaster peeks through a cut out in the box.


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