My Pub: Barratts Sports Bar, Northampton

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Big operation: Barratts opens at 9am and trades for up to 16 hours per day
Big operation: Barratts opens at 9am and trades for up to 16 hours per day

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Barratts licensee Matthew McInerney explains how this sports mad venue has reached its top-of-the-table position and is also home to some of the world’s best snooker players.

Facts 'n' stats

Name: Barratts

Address: Kingsthorpe Road, Northampton, NN2 6HT

Licensees: Matthew McInerney, Biagio Sereno, Kelly Radford

Wet:dry split: 70:30

Turnover: £1.4m

The pub

Built on the complex of the famous Northampton Barratts shoe factory, the original Barratts opened its doors in December 1987 as a snooker hall and bar – it was a first-floor venue that was damaged by a fire in the building below on 25 January 1989.

Staying on the same complex and after the development of what was the old finishing room area of the factory, Barratts reopened its doors in August 1990 as a much grander site with bar, lounge and restaurant areas, a games room and snooker hall all part of its new development.

Fast forward to today as we approach our 30th year of trading, Barratts is a very different beast to what it was back in 1990. Moving with the times and customer demands, it is now the number one sports bar in Northamptonshire (and beyond), with an on-trend food and drinks offering, 38 screens showing sports from around the globe and a team of staff who are crazy about sport. Its love for sport doesn’t end at the screens; it also has a host of fun sports for its customers to enjoy when they visit, pool, darts, ping pong, shuffleboard, table football, beer pong and golf pong, plus a 23-table snooker hall that is home of world number 8 Kyren Wilson along with three other professional players.

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The publican

From potwash to general manager – I started in the kitchen washing pots at the age of 16 and am now general manager (GM). I have worked in every department and at every level within Barratts and other sites within McManus Pub Company before becoming GM in 2003.

One of the keys to Barratts’ success has been a settled, well-loved team, training is vital and we invest in staff to drive them to excel in customer service.

After 16 years in charge, I will move into an operations and marketing role within head office at the end of the financial year and hand the reins over to assistant Biagio Sereno – another long-term member of staff who started at Barratts 10 years ago, also at the age of 16 as a glass collector.

Both are fantastic stories of progression and testament to the training and development offered by the pub company allowing staff to excel at every level in order to reach the top.

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The trade

Barratts’ customer base spans a full demographic and age range. Our food and drinks offer appeals to all. As recent winners of Community Pub of the Year at the Carlsberg UK Northampton Food & Drinks Awards, it demonstrates our effort and attention given to local sporting teams who use Barratts as their base and charities and individuals we support through fundraising events. Sports is in our DNA, known locally as ‘the theatre of screens’, it will come as no surprise that we attract a vast amount of fans for live sports.

The team

Opening daily at 9am, we operate for 15 to 16 hours a day so our team is so important to us, our kitchen team works seamlessly with front of house, allowing the smooth day-to-day running of the business, all new staff have an in-depth induction and are buddied up with senior staff to allow for continued great customer service and staff development.

For big events/matches, we can have 30-plus staff working across four bars, kitchens and barbecues, so a well-trained, confident team is so important – and we are pleased to say this is what we have.

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The drink

From a 30-plus gin range, staple and on-trend draught products, moreish cocktail menu, well-looked-after cask, a craft offering and a great wine and spirit list, we really have something for everyone, supplied by Heineken, Carlsberg and LWC, and working closely with brand owners allows us to be on-point with our drinks offering.

The food

Very similar to our drinks offer, our food offering has something for everybody and we are constantly evaluating it to make sure we are giving our customers what they want. Burgers, wings and pizzas are all great sellers for us but for those who want something a bit more traditional, like a great ham, egg and chips, we have that covered within our pub favourites section.

What’s on the menu?

  • Nachos Grande sharer (vegetarian): crisp corn chips, pickled jalapeño, cheese sauce, salsa, sour cream and guacamole - £7.95
  • Boneless chicken bites with ranch sauce - £4.95
  • All day breakfast: bacon, sausages, fried egg, mushroom, grilled tomato, hash browns, baked beans and toast - £7.50
  • Chicken, leek and bacon full crust pie with mashed potato, broccoli and gravy - £8.95
  • Goan vegetable curry (vegetarian) with steamed rice, poppadom and mango chutney - £7.95 (add pork belly – £1.95, add chicken fillet – £2.50)
  • 12-inch stone-baked meatball pizza: tomato sauce, Italian cheese, meatballs, mushroom and red onion - £9.95
  • Tex Mex burger: 6oz patty, topped with pulled beef chilli, jalapeños, guacamole, sour cream - £10.95
  • The Mexican footlong frankfurter: pulled beef, cheese, jalapeños, guacamole, sour cream, fries and slaw - £10.95
  • Hanging kebab: roasted vegetables, skin-on fries and hot sauce – chicken - £8.95 halloumi (vegetarian) - £9.95
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The events

Events have really driven our business and are a key part to our success. Cider, rum and gin festivals coupled with amazing live music are great fun for our customers. We also have regular, themed charity quizzes, recently our Only Fools & Horses quiz had more than 150 people taking part, we have also had some great guest speakers over the years, including Frank Bruno, Paul Merson, Jimmy White, Neil Ruddock and Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown.

We hold an annual darts tournament called Darts for Heroes, which will be entering its 10th year – during this time, we have raised over £40,000 for the Help for Heroes charity.

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The future

We are always looking to improve and add exciting concepts for our customers to enjoy, we have earmarked 2019-20 for refurbishment.

Our task at present is to find a window in the sporting calendar that will allow for works to be carried out with as little disruption to the sports fan as possible.

With such exciting sporting events ahead: the new football season, Rugby World Cup, NFL and next summer’s European Championship football to name a few, refurbs will take precise planning and will possibly have to be done one area at a time, but its certainly on our agenda.

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