As noted in previous posts I’m currently bringing in some small amount of cash in the pub downstairs from the flat, The Espy, while waiting for something more financially viable to crop up (Games Tester for Rockstar North? The application is already in!). While the pay may be abyssmal I actually really enjoy the work; getting to chat to punters, enjoy the atmosphere and generally have a laugh with colleagues is such a great change from sitting in front of a screen and getting yelled at by subhuman clients and moronic bosses all day.

Now to give you some background, The Espy opened it’s doors a few months ago and we were really interested to see how well it would fare, especially given the chequered past of that particular premises. In the three years we’ve been here it had seen two previous owners, both of whom operated it as a run-of-the-mill boozer (crap food, crap music, big telly for football, unfriendly to kids and families, etc) and consequently neither of them lasted past the summer. From what we’ve heard that’s actually an improvement on past performance – previous incarnations have been described in terms similar to Mos Eisley from Star Wars (“wretched hive of scum and villainy”) and the building’s reputation was such that it even featured in a Rebus novel and TV adaptation. Unfortunately we were elsewhere when Ken Stott and his team of coppers were filmed skulking through the back garden en route to raid the place (seriously!).

Anyhow, back to modern day. Gareth and Amanda, the co-owners, have taken a run-down pub with no clientelle and a terrible reputation and worked some kind of a miracle on it, turning it into the most happening place in Portobello. The food there is incredible and word has spread about it so rapidly that with next to no advertising or media exposure it’s already at the point where we are turning people away left, right and centre from Thursday to Sunday unless they have a reservation. IMHO the reasons for this are Amanda’s huge attention to detail, the atmosphere that has been created and the family-friendly nature (it’s more of a cafe by day, restaurant by night which happens to also sell booze).

Now although things are currently going well the acid test is going to be how well we do over the winter months; it’s easy to run a beach pub when the sun is shining but once the wind picks up it’s another story. To that end a projector screen has been installed to allow us to show movies (absolutely NO television though, especially not sports) and we’re looking for ways to best utilise this and other ideas to keep the business steady till it warms up again in 9 months or so.

Here are some of the ideas so far:

Music – Okay, this already happens, but it’ll happen a lot more. Chirpy cheery local bands to get people buying beers (without annoying the neighbours)

“Cheesey Tuesdays” – Amanda’s current brainchild. Basically you pay £X for a ticket and are treated to a selection of speciality cheeses and liquors/wines along with a classic cheesey 80s film. Will be limited to 12-ish per night as that’s all the comfy seats we can fit in front of the screen while allowing space to eat and drink!

Hallowe’en – An obvious one, just showing some scary films and, if my plans come to fruition, getting the staff’s faces painted by the tattoo studio up the road.

Beers ‘n’ Steers – My idea, probably a one-off but could be repeated with other genres. Your ticket money gets you a Man-Burger (James’s invention which is basically just burger and chili in a bun), a manly beer and a Western. Maybe even offer a choice of Westerns so people can go for classics (The Good, The Bad And The Ugly), more modern fare (The Quick And The Dead) or comedy (Blazing Saddles of course). Please note that I will quit if Wild Wild West is even mentioned. We already have some novelty cowboy hats in the bar but maybe punters could get a free extra pint if they bring their own?

Christmas – Feel-good Christmas movies, mince pies, mulled wine, etc. An easy one.

Does anyone out there have any other suggestions? Basically anything I come up with will get me brownie points, bonus pints and possibly even the holy grail of more shifts. Any ideas welcomed as long as they don’t involve porn or weird communist-era Czechoslovakian animation. And I think they’re already planning to serve White Russians for the inaugural screening of The Big Lebowski

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