This Unassuming Bar in Phoenix Is the City’s Most Authentic English Pub

George & Dragon: An English Pub (Photo by Robert Gundran)

By Robert Gundran

May 19, 2023

George & Dragon was featured on an episode of the show “Bar Rescue” in 2016.

Midtown Phoenix is full of run-of-the-mill apartment complexes, shopping centers, and lots of traffic. But just north of Indian School Road and Central Avenue lies something unexpected—a bar flying both the United States and United Kingdom flags.

George & Dragon: An English Pub looks like any other, with high-top tables spread across the floor, a billiards table and dart board in the back corner, and a slightly quieter dining area off to the side. It has seven picnic tables outside directly facing Central Avenue and the light rail that passes by. 

What makes George & Dragon authentic, though, and not just an English-themed pub, is the owner—David Wimberley, a native of England.

RELATED: Good Dogs: 9 Places to Find the Best Sonoran Hot Dogs in Arizona

Wimberley went from pub owner in London to pub owner in Phoenix, propping up the first English-style pub in the Valley in 1995. 

“I was a blackjack dealer in Vegas,” Wimberley said. “I didn’t like that, and after six weeks I left. The first time I came to Phoenix I fell in love with it.”

He said it was the first time he ever saw a palm tree, and it reminded him of Hawaii. Wimberley said his first visit to Phoenix was in October, so his first exposure to the state’s weather was our mild fall temperatures. 

“In London the weather is bloody freezing,” he said. “I also came here because my daughter, her husband, and her mother lived here.”

RELATED: Rainbow Sprinkles, Please: 8 Places to Grab Donuts in Metro Phoenix

Those who walk into George & Dragon on any Thursday night will be treated to the pub’s weekly trivia nights, which Wimberley routinely emcees. 

In between asking questions for trivia, he’ll stroll over to a table and hold court with patrons, regaling them with stories from his time in England and about the bar. 

Wimberley said the social atmosphere is something he purposely tries to cultivate, and the bar’s sales actually go down when he’s out of town. 

Bar Rescue 

George & Dragon was featured on an episode of the show “Bar Rescue” in 2016. “Bar Rescue” is a reality television show where the host, Jon Taffer, goes to seemingly struggling bars and helps them improve their business. It aired on Spike for 5 seasons, and now airs on the Paramount Network. 

The episode was titled “How to Train the Dragon” and portrayed the pub as a run-down spot with bad drinks and awful food, and Wimberley as an inattentive businessman more interested in drinking and playing poker than running the pub. 

Wimberley said he appreciates the money “Bar Rescue” used in renovations at the bar and the publicity television gave them, but he resents that he had to go through the reality television experience.

RELATED: 9 Must-Try Mobile Coffee Bars in Metro Phoenix to Get Your Caffeine Fix

David’s brother, Tony, reached out to “Bar Rescue” and said on the show that David lost a bit of his passion for running the business after his mother passed away. 

When asked if he enjoyed filming the show he simply said, “No, not at all.”

“[Jon Taffer] was an asshole,” Wimberley said. “He tried to fire [a bartender] and we got into it off camera a few times. He mentioned my dad a few times, who had recently passed.”

Wimberley said that he wouldn’t want to do it again, but that it was overall good for business.

“It helped put us back on the map,” Wimberley said. “It showed locals that we were still open, and we got a lot of old customers back.”

As with most reality television, the final product is not necessarily an accurate representation of what happened. 

“They interviewed us weeks beforehand, and I had to talk all my staff into doing it,” Wimberley said. “I told them all to talk shit about me as an owner so [Taffer] would pick on me and not them, but that didn’t really work out. I tried to make myself out to be an idiot so he wouldn’t pick on my staff.”

How much “Bar Rescue” helped out George & Dragon can’t be quantified, but from walking into the pub on any given night, business appears to be doing just fine. 

A Phoenix Fixture

George & Dragon has become somewhat of a mid-Phoenix institution—every four years it is packed to the walls for the World Cup, and it seems like every weekend the bar is crowded early for breakfast while fans watch Premier League soccer. 

“It makes me very proud [to be part of Phoenix culture],” Wimberley said. “I came here and had nowhere to live. I traveled the country, saved up $300,000, and bought the pub. I ran it with my mother and brother. It’s not the same as what it used to be but it is still a big part of my life.”

His brother retired a few years back, but customers can still find him pouring drinks and chatting with patrons. 

“If it wasn’t for my regulars,” he said, “I wouldn’t be here.”

Looking for the latest Arizona news? Sign up for our FREE daily newsletter.

Author

  • Robert Gundran

    Robert Gundran grew up in the Southwest, spending equal time in the Valley and Southern California throughout his life. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in 2018 and wrote for The Arizona Republic and The Orange County Register.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized

Politics

Local News

Related Stories
Share This