Soho: The lowdown on the latest PMA500 club


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Soho: The lowdown on the latest PMA500 club

Related tags: Covent garden, Soho

The upcoming PMA500 business club meeting will take place in central London - here's a lowdown on Soho's scene.

Soho has long been known as the beating heart of London’s eating and drinking-out scene, offering plenty of opportunity for some of the country’s best pub, bar and restaurant operators.

BrewDog, gourmet burger joint Patty and Bun and a second site for cocktail chain Be At One are all recent arrivals in the area, with Soho also on the hit list for fast-growing cocktail group the London Cocktail Club. Many innovative concepts, including London’s first completely allergen-free restaurant, Yorica, have found their first homes in Soho.

Despite some concerns about rising rents — Soho stalwarts Madame Jojo’s and budget restaurant the Stockpot have both recently closed — there are still opportunities for independent operators, as Inception Group co-founder Charlie Gilkes points out (see box on right).

Gilkes, who will be speaking at the next PMA500 event, stressed that the cost of higher rents is made up for by constant trade in the area. He has previously told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ (PMA) that ‘making every trading window pay’, from a good breakfast offer, through to afternoon teas and late-night experiences, is the trick to making sites with higher rents successful.

Bohemian feel

Local operator Ken Wright, who runs theatre bar and restaurant the Phoenix Artist Club, told the PMA Soho has retained its ‘Bohemian’ atmosphere, despite its popularity with tourists.

“Soho and neighbouring Covent Garden share a long history of entertaining the public and, as such, it’s a world-renowned destination and a must-see for any visitors to London,” he said. “It’s also a multi-coloured meeting point and has the ability to morph from a family-friendly area to an acceptable place for more diverse members of the community, all sharing the same space cheek by jowl.”

He added: “Many people forget that there is a vibrant local community living here — families, singletons, flat sharers and community groups who are all in need of a warm and welcoming space to escape to.”

The introduction of a 24-hour night Tube, expected from September this year, is also set to be good news for the capital’s licensed venues. Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls said the extended service would give a boost to pubs, bars and clubs.


She said: “This will allow more customers to enjoy the city’s licensed hospitality. One third of town-centre revenue is generated after dark and this move will give customers the chance to enjoy a drink or a meal out in the city centre with the peace of mind that they will be able to get home safely and quickly.

“A late-running London Underground will also offer more chances for the gradual dispersal of customers from the busy city centre — an improved transport infrastructure will allow pubs and bars more opportunity to entertain their customers without fear of costly or dangerous bottle necks at closing time.”

Related topics: MA Leaders Club

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