Bombed Out Church named as one of the top venues in the country
4 months ago
The Bombed Out Church has been named as one of the top venues in the country in the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.
The team at St Luke’s (Bombed Out Church) won a gold award for Resilience and Innovation, impressing judges with their response to the pandemic and especially the huge success of the Garden Bar & Café.
The Garden Bar & Café opened in the summer of 2020 at the height of the first lockdown and it’s gone on to become one of Liverpool’s most popular outdoor food and drink attractions.
Kate Jones from the Bombed Out Church says they were surprised but thrilled to win such major national recognition.
“We were delighted to be nominated, so to win was a shock but lovely. It’s been a very tough and up and down few years, juggling bubbles and tables of six and navigating all the Covid restrictions, but it feels like it was all worth it.
“I am immensely proud of our small team and how they adapted to everything. Every employee, and volunteer, has got stuck in to all aspects of the business in order to make it a success, and the recognition this award has given us has just made us so, so happy!”
Kate says the VisitEngland judging panel focused on the Garden Bar & Café and how that helped the Bombed Out Church not only survive when everything closed down, but actually grow and become more financially independent.
She adds: “Before Covid we were mostly open to tourists coming in, hardly any locals ever came into the church. We’re not funded so when all the flights were grounded and everyone was in lockdown, all our money just dried up.
“We were looking around and wondering what we could do and we thought, we have this big site, we have a licence, we already have plans to have a bar on more of a scale than just pop-ups, so let’s do a big outdoor safe setting.
“We set it up specifically around the restrictions so all the furniture was designed for no more than six people, all spaced out and with QR codes which we’re all familiar with now but at the time was brand new.
“At first we just thought it might give us a little bit of income over a few weeks or months but it just took off far more than we were expecting. Now it’s grown into this really popular bar, it’s so busy especially with all the gorgeous weather, and we encourage as many people as we can to come inside the building and read about the church’s history.”
The Bombed Out Church has also become a creative space for outdoor theatre – it hosts the Liverpool Theatre Festival – cinema and events.
And, says Kate, along with all the new programming has come a new audience of visitors from closer to home.
“We get so many local people through the door who tell us they’d passed the building every day and never been inside before so the local community is engaging with us much more.
“Now when they come with an idea we’ve been able to say, ‘we’ll see if we can make it happen’ because the garden bar especially has just given us the stability of funding to be able to do that.”