Bear & Crown Pub Brings British Classics to Old Sacramento

For Joe Wilson and Jesse Ledin, owners of Bear & Crown Pub, opening a British eatery in Northern California was a new endeavor in their personal and professional lives—but in many ways, it was familiar territory.  The restaurant, which celebrated its grand opening in August of 2023, is an embrace of the unique backgrounds of each of its founders.

A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Ledin has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry for nearly two decades, with experience ranging from banquet catering to overseeing restaurant openings, while Wilson is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) bringing extensive accounting experience and his British heritage to the enterprise.  Despite their experience, being a start-up restaurant presented challenges for accessing capital through a traditional bank loan—so when they were looking for funding to finalize their launch, they turned to California Capital and secured a loan that allowed them to complete their renovations of their Old Sacramento location.


Born in London to English parents, Wilson grew up eating—and enjoying—beloved British dishes. When Ledin stepped back from his role at another local restaurant, and the couple realized that their combined skillsets would translate well into operating a restaurant together, the idea of opening a traditional British pub immediately came to mind.

“We saw a gap for a British pub in Sacramento, and we were craving that homey feel,” explains Ledin, adding that they were intent on opening near midtown or downtown Sacramento, where they live.

What was originally envisioned as a hole-in-the-wall canteen, says Wilson, has developed into more of a California spin on the time-honored public houses of the United Kingdom. “It reflects my upbringing, because I’m both British and American, and the playful modern spin fits us more,” he says.

To be sure, the brand itself is a deliberate nod to both locales. Bear & Crown follows the usual naming convention of pubs by having two nouns joined together, says Wilson, explaining that they chose bear to honor California and crown as a salute to hometown NBA team, The Kings. With a logo designed by local artist Spencer Parry, Bear & Crown is as Sacramento as a British-themed eatery can be.


When they began to pursue the project in earnest, Ledin’s connections in the Sacramento restaurant industry proved to be invaluable mentors, and Wilson’s knowledge of accounting and business management made the planning s

eamless. Both of their families are supportive of the vision as well, and have invested in the start-up costs. With support from California Capital, they were able to finish their tenant improvements and open on schedule.

“Working with [California Capital] was really easy, and it was great to have them visit the site and see the behind-the-scenes of how we were putting the money to use,” explains Wilson. “Working with a nonprofit lender was also a reflection of our love for the local community.”


Since their grand opening, the founders have kept their staff—and themselves—busy.  They are running promotions for Sacramento Kings fans heading to games at nearby Golden 1 Center, hosting private events and preparing to host more community events with their new entertainment permit.  In the coming months, they also plan to pilot a seasonal initiative in which they will partner with local nonprofits to offer a special menu item whose sales will support the nonprofit of the season.

Add this to their regular happy hours and weekly, rotating Sunday Roast menu, and it is clear that Wilson and Ledin are staying true to the long-established tradition of pubs being more than a restaurant: Bear & Crown is quickly becoming a hub for entertainment, community building and inclusivity.