Long Island Iced Tea Shop

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Sutton, Surrey Neil Ainsworth, manager of the Long Island Iced Tea Shop in Sutton, knows exactly what he wants to give customers. "What we aspire to...

Sutton, Surrey Neil Ainsworth, manager of the Long Island Iced Tea Shop in Sutton, knows exactly what he wants to give customers. "What we aspire to is giving people a quality offering of entertainment and atmosphere. From my point of view, if we exceed people's expectations, we will get repeat business. If they talk about the good time they had the night before, then we have delivered." Neil took over at the Long Island around six months after Scottish & Newcastle Retail invested about £2m in the outlet and opened it for business in September 2002. Included in the spend was £90,000 for two DJ booths ­ one serving the main ground-floor trading area, the other catering for the larger dance area upstairs. If need be, the same music can be piped throughout the 950-capacity venue. Neil says the evenings start with the ground-floor DJ warming up the crowd with party music and gradually increasing the tempo as the evening wears on. At around 9.30pm, the upstairs bar and dance area opens with "music that is more full on". Discos are held three nights per week ­ Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays ­ with the music lasting until the end of the late licence at 2am. To encourage the party atmosphere, floor walkers circulate selling tequila and bottled beers. As the venue takes its name from the famous American cocktail, it's no surprise to see cocktails are in abundance on the drinks menu with more than 50 different concoctions on offer. The chameleon nature of the bar is evident during the daytime when it is frequented by locals, shoppers, and people working in the numerous office blocks in the Surrey town, and table service is offered. At night-time, the Long Island turns into a venue where, as Neil puts it: "People can enjoy themselves and let their hair down in a safe and managed environment." To pull in customers, regular events include engaging tribute bands, "back to school" nights, themed events such as a James Bond night or celebrating US Independence Day, and employing "guest DJs" such as Brandon Block and Keith Chegwin. Neil says a great deal of the venue's success is down to the staff. Regular staff meetings are held to "establish what people are talking about, what's happening and how we can bring it to Long Island and make it fun". "We employ many people who are in the target market so they know what their peers want for a great night out," he adds. Neil feels the venue's success is also down to "careful attention to the music profiles". "We concentrate on up-to-date commercial styles, mixed with handbag and cheesy favourites," he explains. "DJs are hand-picked to deliver party sets to match the mood of the crowd.

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