The head of a London bar group says the company is already looking for further expansion into Birmingham after taking over one of the city’s most popular live event sites.
Tom Kidd, co-founder of Adventure Bar Group, believes the business has a bright future in the city as he joins other hospitality venues today in welcoming back customers.
In March, the company announced it had struck a ten-year lease deal to take on the operation of the 15,000 sq ft Digbeth Arena in Lower Trinity Street, creating 50 new jobs in the process.
The arena has been rebranded ‘Luna Springs’ as a nod to the city’s renowned Lunar Society and the firm now has a raft of plans for the 2,500-capacity site over the coming months as restrictions ease and the weather improves.
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Mr Kidd told BusinessLive: “We have already been looking at other sites around the centre of Birmingham. We have a rollout plan that we’re trying to do over the next few years and Birmingham is our Midlands base.
“As a business, we specialise in drinking with entertainment so we’re looking at sites in great locations or with potential for massive scope.
“Our model has kind of evolved from being drinking focussed, high-energy bars to venues in which we do quite a lot of events.”
The 39-year-old founded the company in 2005 with his school friend Toby Jackson and business partner Bryan Lloyd who are both still directors of the group, growing it to 150 staff.
Starting out with just a single venue in London, the group has expanded to nine sites in the capital and the Tonight Josephine cocktail bar in The Burlington, opposite New Street station.
But this is yet to serve a single customer as it was poised to open its doors in December before a fresh round of covid restrictions were placed on the country and a lack of outdoor space will delay that launch for a few more weeks yet.
Looking ahead, Mr Kidd said Adventure Bar would invest in the infrastructure of Luna Springs.
It is also planning to offer a range of events including live music and DJs, street food, big-screen sport and an outdoor cinema, with the longer-term aim of creating a sustainable venue capable of staying open all year round.
Mr Kidd added: “When I went to look at it, I thought it was an amazing large space underneath these incredible viaducts. There’s so much you can do with it and there are already good operators in the Digbeth area.
“Throughout the summer, we’re going to invest more money and time implementing infrastructure such as adding further bars, bringing in food operators, investing in the guest experience and more basic stuff like extra toilets.
“You could spend thousands on day one fitting it all out but the sector’s been shut for a year so everyone has to be pragmatic about where they deploy their capital.
“We’re no different to that. We can’t just spend all that money on day one.”
Open-air venues are always at the mercy of the changing UK seasons but Mr Kidd said the management team was already discussing how they could make it a year-round destination.
He explained that one of the group’s bars in Waterloo with a huge rooftop terrace suffered from poor trading in its first year so the following winter an ice rink was added which boosted custom.
“We’ve learned that you need to change the story about a space like that in the winter and give people compelling reasons to come when it’s not the summer,” he concluded.
“We will do that with Luna Springs but quite what that is, we’re not yet ready to say.
“We’re having that conversation a little bit at the moment knowing that, come July, we will really have to think about it properly. It’s such a big space so there’s so much we could do such as winter gardens, outside markets or ice rinks.
“We will be open past October, we have loads of great ideas for it but we’re just not ready to commit to any at this stage until we really see how the space behaves.”