One of Chester’s best known music and comedy venues will close for a refurbishment just hours after the last stragglers from Thursday’s New Year celebrations have gone home.
Jamie Northrop, new owner of Alexander’s Jazz Theatre bar, is ringing the changes at the start of 2016, with a three-stage revamp starting on January 1.
There will be an initial £30,000 investment in the bar and performance area, followed by later refurbishments of the upstairs and toilets plus a freshening up of the beer garden.
The grand reopening and launch party will be from 5pm on Saturday, January 16.
Jamie, 32, who bought the business from Rod Cox and Pauline Thompson, wants to strike a balance between retaining elements of the old Alexander’s while signalling a new era.
He said: “It’s been a long standing dream to own my own venue and now I have one I need to put my stamp on it. I plan on keeping the quirkiness of the venue and I don’t want to take away from it at all, it just needs a bit of tender loving care and a personal touch to get it back on track and that’s exactly what we plan to do.”
With the help of his parents, Jamie is upcycling, recycling and making the majority of fixtures and fittings for the venue.
One controversial change is a decision to remove the iconic wall hanging from the rear of the performance area. Jamie reveals the tapestry was originally meant to soften the acoustics but it’s been damaged over the years and latest advice is that a plain backdrop is best.
“It’s a shame to get rid of it but that’s why I don’t want to throw it,” commented Jamie, who has had many people enquiring about the future of the wall hanging.
“At the same time, things change and it is damaged because it was in the way of the bands, so people have been treading on it and there are bits coming off.”
Jamie, a former president of Chester Students’ Union at the University of Chester where he graduated in dance, is considering raffling it off for a good cause in the near future, knowing there are many who would love it in their own home.
The venue will be open as usual through to December 31 and is celebrating New Year’s Eve with live music from local band, The Continentals. Hawarden firm, Aspect Woodworks, who recently refurbished Marmalade on Northgate Street, are involved with the revamp.
Established in 1991 and about to enter its 25th year, Alexander’s has remained at the forefront of the local music scene, with acts such as Duffy and Ed Sheeran gracing the renowned open mic stage when they were virtual unknowns.
The venue will continue to serve up a mix of jazz and blues through to rock, pop and soul as well as comedy.
But the new line-up from January 16 will include a night searching for ‘Alexander’s Next House Band’, local gig nights, touring shows on Saturdays and live comedy every Friday. Old favourites such as the open mic, blues jams and jazz jams, along with Sunday afternoon jazz, are all staying.
There will be a new food menu and brand new drinks list.