DAVID HOLMES visits an exclusive club that is booming despite the downturn
AWARD-WINNING bar, restaurant, hotel and private members’ club Oddfellows is defying the credit crunch to such a degree the owners are now looking to open a second venue.
Up to 1,500 revellers go through the doors of the Lower Bridge Street venue in Chester every Saturday night which has proved a huge success since opening in April because of its Hollywood-style luxury.
A shortlist of possible sites has been drawn up for the sister operation which will be somewhere in the Chester area but this is being kept a closely guarded secret.
Commercial director Izzy Grey said: “We sat down and thought about the business and we want to start rolling out site number two. It won’t be too far away and it will be along similar lines.”
Oddfellows employs 55 people and represents a £3.25m investment by Lister Carter Associates featuring a public bar and restaurants, a walled garden, plus four bedrooms graded as five star and a private members’ lounge.
Quirky features abound with the old vault used as an intimate dining room for romantic couples, a safe converted into a cognac honesty bar, a golden gun lamp, ‘Gilbert the pig’ and even a record player in one room complete with an eclectic selection of tunes on vinyl.
Ms Grey says there is no room for complacency in the modern market-place and cites the hiring of DJs on Sunday nights and live guitar performances as evidence the venue will try that little bit harder.
She said: “Because it’s so young and fresh the business is winning but we have to continue to be the best at what we do all the time.”
And the credit crunch does not seem to be having a significant impact on the money going through the tills with, for example, a £1,000 bottle of Champagne being sold recently.
Ms Grey added: “We are very accessible and we are good value. People who may be used to go out twice a week are now going out once a week but then we still get the high rollers.”
There are now 300 private members who pay about £250 each for exclusive access to the upstairs lounge and other perks. But Oddfellows would like to promote its informal-style fine dining restaurant where a three-course meal costs £39.50 and the tasting menu is priced £55 per person or £81 with wine.