Barracuda rolls over for Tesco
The Tesco juggernaut rolls on. Managed group Barracuda looks set to the take the grocer's shilling for its Providence pub in Brighton's Western Road, renowned as a quality music and comedy venue. Conversion of the pub to a Tesco would send the total number of Tescos in the city, to er, 12. Sally Adams, Providence manager, says: "It is true that Tesco are interested, although we don't have a date yet, so it is business as normal for the moment. It's all up in the air, but I can confirm that Tesco is interested and the company will be selling the pub."
Club plan for not so sleepy Salford
Good to see some folk still have faith in the live-music scene. Owners of Manchester nightclub Sankeys are set to submit a planning application to build a 16,000-capacity standing-only music venue. Proposals for a £5m club called the Power Station — in a disused Trafford warehouse — were temporarily pulled in January after a public backlash. There's strong local opposition — from a lobby group called Sleepless in Salford. Is Meg Ryan a member?
JDW tackles a tough nut…
JD Wetherspoon is set to open its second pub in Cambridge this month. But locals are warning it may have bitten off more than it can chew. The Tivoli is on the site of the former Graduate pub in Chesterton Road. City Cllr Margaret Wright said the history of previous pubs here has been one of financial disaster.
She said: "It seems owners and licensees of this venue in the past have had difficulty making ends meet. This has led to regulations being infringed and existing limitations being infringed. I'm not saying Wetherspoon aren't able to run a successful pub; they obviously are. But that site has seen them come and go and they haven't done well. It has a very troubled history." We're watching with interest.
…and marches in to GK's manor
Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon is set to march back into the heart of Greene King country — Bury St Edmunds. Councillors have voted to allow the company to convert the historic Corn Exchange into a pub. Wetherspoon had a much smaller site in the town a few years back — but sold it. It was an interesting site in that the property landlord discovered the separately-let upstairs was being put to a very unusual use. Ask City Diary's Paul Charity about it next time you see him out and about.
Chelsea rubs rust from '80s image
Down in swanky Chelsea, a nightclub has opened — Maggie's — that pays homage to ex-Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Owners Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling are only in their 20s, but are clearly fans of the 1980s. Walls sport "A-Team" posters, "Gremlin" dolls, Wham! album covers, and platinum discs by a-ha. The bartenders are dressed like Tom Cruise in the 1988 cult movie Cocktail and waitresses wearing neon leggings deliver drinks to guests seated by giant Rubik's Cube tables. Sounds like a very bad dream. Gilkes objects: "The 1980s are definitely back — it was an amazingly vibrant era and now, 30 years on, elements of it are creeping back into pop culture." We'll take his word for it.
Brum pubs in lap-dancing switch
Birmingham's Broad Street has seen a lot of pubs close in recent years. Some sites are migrating to use as lap-dancing clubs, and a fourth is now set to open. Key to the club winning the approval of Birmingham City Council's licensing committee was the lack of a police objection, making a claim that it would increase anti-social behaviour hard to support. The Boujee Rooms joins established outlets Rocket Club, Legs 11 and the recently-opened Cyclone club in offering lap dancing. Is there money in this sort of thing or something?
Lies, damned lies and statistics
Many will remember a row two weeks ago between Greg Mulholland and Ted Tuppen over levels of concessionary tenant support within the Enterprise estate. Mulholland claimed it was a few thousand per pub, Ted Tuppen insisted it worked out at an average of £10,000 per pub. City Diary consulted Deutsche Bank analyst Geof Collyer for the definitive view on this. Happily they're both right.
Collyer says: "Ted has talked about helping 3,000 pubs (around 40% of the estate) costing circa £30m in two years. If you do it on the total number of pubs, the figures are between £1,240 to £4,319 per pub, depending on which year. However, if you take the 3,000 figure of pubs that have been helped, the sums work out at £10,000 per pub, using Ted's £30m, or £12,000 using my £36m over the past two years." City Diary author Paul Charity dismissed Mulholland's figures as "plain wrong". They're clearly not — just depends on how you look at it.