Want to run a bar? VivID Lounge

Autumn BBQ

I’ve enjoyed having VivID Lounge right below where I live. It was like having a local pub (I assume) but it was a European styled lounge. However there were problems right from the start and it looks like its the end of the road for this current version of the lounge.

This will be a very difficult blog post to write and I’m going to leave out peoples names and dates because its not really fair. Its also worth noting I’m not really in a position to be talking because I’ve never opened a bar or ever run an physical establishment. So really this is the thoughts from a outsiders view. I’ll probably get peoples backs up but, hey I’m doing it for the right reasons I believe… and I would happily say most of the same stuff to the previous owners of VivID lounge…

VivID lounge was one of those jokes for the longest time. Some of us believed it was a hoax by ISIS to get interest in the space. However it turned out to be real soon after I moved into Islington Wharf, with a paper survey through everyones postbox. Months after, things started happening. First a council application for food and alcoholic drink then one for a late night licence. It was clear it wasn’t a hoax after all. Then finally things started happening in the glass space, including a call for employment.

Due to open in July in time for the Ice Cream Festival, it didn’t quite happen and it was another 3 months before it actually opened, missing most of summer. It also opened with no big fanfare or announcements. The owners said they didn’t want a big opening.

So for months, people have walked past it and seen its open but haven’t gone in. Don’t get me wrong sometimes it was busy but generally its quiet and there 1-5 people sitting reading the news, enjoying a coffee. Why…?

There’s a whole host of reasons I believe… but here’s my thoughts…

  1. Engagement with the residents and residents committee…
    I’m on the committee and also form the social committee and although we had a very successful night for the residents just recently (pics you can see here)… It wasn’t enough. I had planned to do feedback sessions to the residents about whats going on but got busy, and it didn’t happen. Ultimately I would suggest that more work needed to be done to engage residents. Not just sticking flyers through there post boxes, but actually banging on doors and massive discounts just to get people through the door everyday. This seemed to fall between the cracks of the owners and the residents committee, I can only suggest if we had known things were going so badly we would have got involved far earlier
  2. Get Decor
    Yes named after a favorite tune but ultimately the decor of the lounge was very uncomfortable and unfriendly. Plastic white chairs with white tables and only one sofa (next to the toilet). What it really needed was to take a note from places like North Tea Power, NoHo, Apothica, Common, etc. Simple cheap sofas with simple cheap wood tables. It would feel a lot more friendly with all those wood/earthy tones instead of stark white/orange colour scheme. Its a lounge… and the décor just didn’t quite match what you think about when you think European Lounge.
  3. Environmental factors
    VivID always struck me as very light and breezy due to the massive amounts of glass throughout but at night it always had the lights on very high… It was always a mood killer and although they had tea lights, they were over powered by the heavy lights throught-out the space. They really could have done with killing most of the nights and using many more candles (but there might be other reasons for this)
  4. Taking feedback on the chin
    In the early days, it was mentioned many times by many people that it would be great if VivID lounge would do a cooked breakfast on the weekends. VivID would only do healthy/hearty breakfasts containing porridges and muesli… The excuse was sometimes “the kitchens not big enough…” “We don’t want to be a greasy spoon” “If we gave everyone what they wanted… we would be bankrupt.” It was so bad, that people would come to me and moan to me about it! So in the end I ended up telling them again on behalf of others. If I had known things were so bad earlier, I would have been much more forceful at the very start.
  5. Celebrate every moment
    VivID missed its original opening date by a few months, but even when they opened it never did a launch event… This is a crying shame because many people didn’t know it was open for a while and even if they did, there was no real reason to go and check it out. I could mention social objects here but I won’t… People like an excuse to be there, thats why the quiz nights worked. Lastly there was no closing party (from what people tell me). There wasn’t even a “thanks everyone for supporting us type thing” (I wasn’t there on the last Saturday, so I’m going on hear-say), instead there was a message on the facebook group. So much for celebration…
  6. Its not just about us…
    Islington Wharf wasn’t the only flats in the area. Yes it was right underneath but actually there was Chips, Quantum, Millerners Wharf, Piccadilly Basin, etc, etc.. I don’t personally know how much effort went into engaging with those people but theres been a estimation that at least 1200 other people are a short walk from VivID. Even if they could convince 10% to come in regularly that would be great for business. VivID is also on the way to the Manchester City ground and the couple of times they tried selling things to the fans, its been very well received. I guess what I’m saying is, I believe there is enough footfall and someone will make a killing
  7. Whats on the menu?
    The menu was a mess of new and old items. Some of the old ones were no longer sold and the new ones you had to ask for. On top of that, there was only a few choices in certain categories. For example, only one black tea (my own bug bear) but about 4 different types of fruit & a green tea… Many times I wanted a earl grey but couldn’t get one. Near the end I learned they had them but it wasn’t on the menu or board! Seriously… This is systematic of the problems with the menu as a whole. When dim sum was added to the menu I was excited and told people about it, but later when a friend came in for dim sum, they couldn’t see it on the menu, so was disappointed. This is the same case for the fried breakfast… I understand the menu was fluid but they really needed paper menus to reflect this.

Autumn BBQ

There are many more but these are the main ones…
Of course it would be wrong of me to just highlight the negatives… It was a centre piece in the islington wharf community and the amount of people who we met there was great. As I said before I imagine its like a old town pub which all the locals hang out and socialise. In actual fact VivID lounge was the social object. It was the reason why people left there flats and chatted to each other. Its the reason why I spent a ton of money at VivID lounge even though the coffee and tea wasn’t as good as they could have been (North Tea Power can sleep well). The staff were generally friendly (specially some of the women, who were very cute), and the people you found hanging around were always cool and friendly. I’m sure there were many friendships which were formed via Vivid and as it seems will out live VivID.
Once again its a shame and to be fair its a difficult time for all independent coffee shops (Outlet closed down a while ago too) and you’ve got to be prepared to not make any money for at least 2 years it seems. Real businesses are a total different game from what I’m use to and I have total respect for the people involved in making vivID lounge…. I hope there not too hard hit and they will bounce back very soon…
Of course if your interested in taking over VivID lounge, do get in touch… I’ll happily pass your details on to the owners. I’m very confident with the right understanding of the mistakes above, enough money and once the new tram station and marina opens it will be a killer coffee bar

Films you might have missed recently

I watch a lot of films (and that doesn’t even include the ones in the cinema)… So in my usual style, here’s a list of ones you may have missed (also made a Top10 list), which are certainly worth watching… I’m adopting part of the Simon Lumb approach to film reviews

  • Entitled
    More twists and turns than a spinning twitter… Will have you thinking and scratching your head for a while. Its smart and clever, if you like smart films with plenty of twists and believable characters this one you will like. If you like well written dramas like Cracker, Dexter, etc. You will enjoy this one.
  • The Ledge
    I saw this film and then later saw a trailer for a film called Man on the Ledge. I thought they were the same film renamed but after a little look on imdb, I discovered they were different in everything but concept and plot. Maybe its this years Liberty stands still/Phonebooth, Armageddon/Deep Impact, etc, etc. Either way, the ledge is a gripping film which surprises and delights. Say its a heist movie gives away too much. You will certainly like it if you like Liberty stands still or Phonebooth, you will also enjoy it if you like heist movies like Heat and Takers. Don’t watch it if you like cheese…
  • Trust
    The story about a girl who is groomed online by a older man, and the reaction from the parents. It starts simply enough and you think well Clive Owen is going to smash someones face in at some point. But then comes the real emotion that the girl doesn’t feel like she wasn’t raped and the other half (the interesting half) is how the family deal with this. Expect a lot of shouting and slamming doors… If you liked Hard Candy, this isn’t for you. Its gritty and takes its matter very seriously.
  • The Perfect Host
    This film is very surprising… You think you have its back then it transforms into something more align to a scene in American Psycho. Once again, you think its a simple plot and easy to follow but it gets very very dark. To the point where your wondering where things took a turn for the worst. If you enjoyed the Last Supper then you will enjoy this. Don’t watch it if your after action and love your Fraser heart throb.
  • Middle Men
    The tale of two men who stumble across a way to make serious money off the new media porn industry . Its very adult in nature and frankly a bit of fun till it all goes wrong as different people get involved and they end up ripping each other off. If you liked the Social Network, August or Startup dot com or work in the field of online, you will like this film a lot.
  • Soul Surfer
    This one is the tale of a lady surfer who over came amazing disability to carry on doing what she loves. Its a heart felt tale and knowing its a true story elevates it in to this list. I’m a bit of a sucker for these kinds of a story and who wouldn’t be? Inspirational and touching. Something for those who like real stories and don’t mind a little teenager emotion. Its a cheesy in part but its held together by the real life story
  • Wrecked
    Very much like Burried but more like 127hours where not everything is so focused on one single scene. Things do happen outside the one scene and are shown on the screen for all to understand what happened. I don’t know if I would recommend it over 127 hours but I certainly would recommend it over Burried. If you like either, you will like Wrecked.
  • The Veteran
    This is a broody guts and all type movie. It feels like gangster number one, but lacks the polish. Its gritty and a bit cheeky in parts but a good watch and worth seeking out if it comes across your scope.


If you liked these recommendations, theres even more dotted around my blog. [1][2][3][4]