A big week for London bars, and first pub opens at Luton Airport

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

New venue openings: Bars and pubs open across the country in cities, airports and rural areas
New venue openings: Bars and pubs open across the country in cities, airports and rural areas

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It's been a big week for London bars, with the Saint opening in the capital, and a retro gaming bar coming to Soho in May, and pubs have also opened their doors after makeovers around the country.

Retro gaming bar to open in Soho next month

NQ64 is bringing a mix of retro gaming, bespoke cocktails and neon aesthetic to Soho next with its eighth site, a new arcade bar.

Spray paint artwork will cover the walls and ceiling of the bar, which take over the former Ballie Ballerson bar on Berwick Street. There will be a huge spread of bar table and a DJ will play hip-hop sets each night.

The bar will supply more than 30 original arcade games including Time Crisis, Guitar Hero, Dancing Stage and Pac-man, and will also have classic consoles.

The arcade machines take tokens, which can be purchased at the bar, and the consoles are free to use. The only condition is you are buying drinks, with a range of gamer-themed cocktails to pick from such as Kirby, Donkey Kolada and the Aku Aku Fruit Punch (inspired by Crash Bandicoot) alongside a selection of craft beers, wines sodas and spirits.

NQ64 co-founder Matthew Robson said: “We are so excited to be bringing NQ64 to London as this has been a huge ambition of ours for some years.

We think NQ64 will bring a whole new dimension to the entertainment landscape of the capital by transporting visitors back in time, all while being the latest hotspot for those who just want to have a drink up and good night out in the town. We can’t wait to officially open our doors next month.”



First pub to open at London Luton Airport

Independent Surrey-based brewery, Big Smoke Brew, and Airport Retail Enterprises (ARE) have teamed up to launch an independent craft beer and food destination to travellers departing from London Luton Airport (LLA).

Following from the success of their first venue at Heathrow’s Terminal Two, the doors to a second Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen will be opening in June 2022.

The venue will have the brewery’s trademark aesthetic of comfortable spaces, and will stock the brand’s locally produced beers, cider and gins. This will include eight key options, one cask ale, six cans in the fridge and three house gins, alongside a selection of premium beers, wines, spirits, cocktails and soft drinks.

The food menu includes a range of seasonal options suited for all-day-dining, including pub classics, all-day breakfasts and sharing dishes.

Jonathan Rayner, LLA chief commercial officer commented: “With demand for air travel returning, the arrival of Big Smoke at London Luton Airport is well-timed ahead of what’s expected to be our busiest summer since 2019.

“It’s the perfect complement to our diverse range of shops and restaurants and it promises to be a big hit with our customers, delivering even more choice, providing an excellent menu and the convenience of at-table ordering and payment.”

Rich Craig, who launched Big Smoke Brew with business partner James Morgan in 2014, said the pair were “thrilled” to be opening the new restaurant, with ARE director John Butts “delighted” to be opening the first pub at Luton Airport.



London cocktail bar reopens after makeover

The Saint, a cocktail bar in the City’s Bow Churchyard, London, reopened on Monday (25 April) following a full refurb by Fuller Smith & Turner PLC.

The venue has a colourful mid-century aesthetic, and offers a menu focusing on small plates and sharers like pulled South Coast lamb shoulder and a charred cumin-marinated paneer with yellow dahl, alongside cocktails and fine wines.

The Saint’s team is lead by Jake Rose who previously ran the Signal Box in Euston station, the Roundhouse in Covent Garden and the Saint’s prior incarnation, the Fine Line at Bow Churchyard.

Rose said: “Having worked previously in the venue under a different concept I am very excited to be involved in the launch of this amazing new bar. I am looking forward to welcoming back familiar faces and introducing myself to new customers to the Saint.

“After a turbulent couple of years now feels like the perfect time for an exciting new bar in the city – encompassing a fresh new concept, with the premium quality and standards Fuller’s is so famous for. I just know it’s going to be a real star with both Saints and Sinners alike and we can’t wait to open the doors and welcome you all in.”



Concept Taverns set to open 11th​ venue after £250k revamp

Yorkshire-based bar operator Concept Taverns is set to open its latest site that will boast more than 100 varieties of gin and 20-plus draught lines on 19 May after a £250,000 renovation.

Pinnacle Beer & Gin Hall on Bond Street is set to open in the venue that was Roxy Leisure’s Roxy Lanes site. It will house pool tables, shuffleboard and screens showing Sky Sports and BT sports, and will create 20 new jobs.

Spanning 7,000sq ft, the bar is the 11th​ venue for the Concept Taverns portfolio and takes its name from the Pinnacle Building it resides within, which was the tallest building in central Leeds when it opened in 1973.

Read more here

Destination Derbyshire pub completes £950k freehold price to Caffeine & Machine

The Knockerdown Inn, a venue that occupies an eight acre site in Derbyshire, has completed off an asking price of £950,000 freehold to emerging operators Caffeine & Machine.

The pub overlooks Carsington Water on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District National Park. Facilities include a beamed lounge bar and a lounge, both with log burners, and there are 35 touring caravan pitches at the site. What’s more, the site operates a 52 cover restaurant, and the gardens boast a children’s adventure play area.

The threading profit and loss accounts for the year ended 30 September 2019 show net sales of £455,599 from which there was a gross profit of £302,304 (66%).



Community pub reopens doors after £300k revamp

Community pub the Rising Sun in Chelmsford, Essex, reopened on 21 April following a combined investment of £300,000 from Admiral Taverns and new licensee Evan Eksteen.

Visitors will now be able to enjoy a spacious beer garden which seats up to 50 people, and has been fitted with a new pagoda, alongside wooden benches and atmosphere lighting. Heaters have also been installed beneath the pagoda.

Eksteen has also restored the pub’s wooden floor and existing brick work to former glory, modernising it with statement wallpaper, lighting and furniture.

Eksteen said he gets a “huge sense of satisfaction” out of giving back to the community. He said: “I want to make the pub an inclusive space where everyone feels welcome to stop in anytime, no matter the occasion.

“Thanks to this incredible refurbishment, there is a new dawn for the Rising Sun and I’m very excited for the future of the pub.”

Mark Sheridan, Admiral Taverns business development manager believed Eksteen had done a “fantastic job” with the venue. He concluded: “The pub has got so much character and is oozing personality thanks to all the work Evan has put in. I’m really looking forward to seeing it shine and the residents make the most of it.”


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