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Iain is launching Tempest on Tithebarn, in the space formerly occupied by Hus.
And he reckons it will bring a slice of Big Apple buzz to the city.
He says: “The business district in Liverpool has always reminded me of the Meatpacking District of New York, with lots of grand buildings repurposed into a real eclectic mix of apartments, offices, bars and restaurants, and the Tempest building feels at the centre of all that.”
Home to the Whitney Museum of American Art and designer clothing stores, the district’s streets are filled with trendy restaurants and clubs that have taken over the cavernous spaces once occupied by the namesake meatpacking companies.
“And I want to bring a feel of that here,” adds Iain. “It’s exciting.
“You’ve got the roof terrace which is a great space and where we plan to hold lots of different events, as well as the space at street level at the front of the building which the new Without Walls scheme encourages and which we can make the most of, especially if we get good weather in summer.
“We have all seen in lockdown how valuable these outside spaces are – and I don’t think we’ll be seeing an end of restrictions soon – and I think, once the latest lockdown is lifted, people will be looking forward to going back to the familiar places they loved, as well as trying out new places too, like this.”
Iain has got a wealth of experience in this area of the hospitality industry and he knows that it’s a tough area to crack.
He still owns Ma Boyle’s Alehouse and Eatery in Tower Gardens, having sold Ma Egerton’s last year, and sees it being a sister site for its new neighbour.
And, while Ma Boyle’s managed to do well when it could open throughout the last year – ‘with Ma Boyle’s the hard work we put in over the past five years really future-proofed it and it’s in a great position to bounce back post-pandemic’– he saw his Bock Biere Café and Fondue House in Manchester close (‘it was too small and snug a place for social distancing and with fondue a sharing experience, it no longer worked’).
But none of this has taken away Iain’s enthusiasm for his latest project, just a stone throw from Ma’s, in Tithebarn Street, still in the city’s business district where Iain also lives.
“It’s been knocking on for a whole year, the previous operators of Hus which became Folk stopped trading in December 2019. When it opened as Hus I was aware of it, this amazing looking venue and Scandinavian concept and, while Ma Boyle’s was as far away from that as you could get, I still saw it as friendly competition.
“Where should we go on Friday after work? Someone in the office is leaving and where should we go for a few drinks, which could turn into an all-night thing?
“But where Hus was pretty trendy while Ma’s was more traditional with a wide demographic, I think that’s reflected in the business district. It’s a much more diverse mix than people realise, you do have your high-flyers with great disposable income, but most people who make up the footfall are people who work in a great variety of different office jobs at all levels. And you have people who live there who don’t always want to travel far for a drink in the evening.
“The business district is as much about the business of leisure these days.
“That’s why a variety of places have popped up, like all those in Castle Street; and it’s not even about after work or late night trade but a mix of both – a much more rounded offer than what would have been the case five years ago when I took over Ma Boyle’s.”
Tempest on Tithebarn will go big on brunch, including bottomless brunches – “The whole brunch thing has exploded” – and lunches, offering very much a New York or LA dining experience, getting out and meeting friends.
The dining offer will be small plates, and sky-scraper burgers, and it will be flexible to cater for the group. And, depending on the post-pandemic footfall in the area, it will aim to appeal to the pre-work crowd with coffee and takeout.
“We want it to be a fun hang-out where you can get together with friends,” says Iain. “We plan to have lots of events, like outdoor cinema clubs on the roof terrace and live music nights, and we can also offer spaces to hire when allowed.
“Lockdown has actually helped us to refine things, to change it around and it’s given us time, and the luxury, to go back to the drawing board.
“It will be hard at first of course, and it’ll be a challenge. We don’t know if companies will have staff back like they did or whether there will be more flexible working BUT we can be flexible too. It’s in a great catchment area for hotels and, when things do come back, I reckon the staycation market will be huge.
“Liverpool is a great city to spend a day, or three or four in and, while some things have changed, that hasn’t.
“It is the right time of year and we have various things ready to go, depending on restrictions, to launch around Easter.
“I know the challenges, but I am confident with what we have got there and that we can deliver something that everyone else is going to be excited about too.”
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