It’s business as usual for entrepreneur Stephen Pierre with a winter season launch this weekend at his two Blackpool venues.
With the first anniversary of his relaunch of The Galleon this weekend, Stephen has decided to also keep the North Promenade Nellie Deans open at weekends.
“I’ve been delighted with the way The Galleon has been accepted and the type of people we attract there,” he said of the Abingdon Street “swing, blues and beyond” venue.
“We have managed to attract the same type of mixture that the original club did in its heyday, which is exactly what I was hoping for.
“The regulars are a mix of the wierd and the wonderful, musical and artistic – basically people who don’t necessarily feel at home in most other Blackpool venues but feel perfectly at ease here.”
When he took over the former Jack’s Sports Bar (later called Lucy’s), he admits to only giving it “a £100 makeover”.
“I wanted to retain its character, and hopefully capture some of the atmosphere of the original Galleon, with posters, live music and a welcoming atmosphere.”
When The Galleon looked settled in its new setting, Stephen than took on Nellie Deans on the front.
Traditionally a karaoke bar, he experimented with nightly cabaret, and admits he might have got the formula wrong.
“It cost me a lot of money, but I think I was trying to make it into something that it wasn’t,” he says. “While the place did – and still does – very well at weekends, the cabaret approach didn’t pull in the audience we wanted.
“I think perhaps it was an old format, and it was one that places like Ma Kelly’s had already got off to a fine art.
“Midweek student dance nights had worked better, but it was basically lower profile, and more traditional singalong and karaoke, which still worked there.
“Because of its location, there are certain nights when the passing trade is younger, and we have tried to capture some of that, but at the weekends our core audience is, shall we say, largely recycled teenagers. That’s who we cater for.”
For the winter, Stephen is hoping younger Thursdays will still work, then a mixture of music at the weekend.
“We are 66 per cent up on last year’s figures, so that’s why I want to carry on as long as I can throughout the winter,” he says.
To that end he has introduced a Nellie Deans Royalty Card, which is also valid in The Galleon. It gives 10 per cent discount on drinks and guarantees free admission – even on New Year’s Eve.”
“It’s a year to the week since I took The Galleon on, and I just don’t know where the time has gone,” he says.
“Hopefully I will be saying the same about Nellie Deans.
“My aim has always been to look after the locals and at this time year, given the difficult trading situation in the licensed trade, that is more important than ever.”