Real People: The one-stop big night out

Sick of the schlep between bar, restaurant and nightclub? You can give it up, says Hester Lacey
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Going out for the evening can be an exhausting, expensive and humiliating business, should you wish to go for the full-montydrinking/eating/shaking- your-tail-feathers combination. First of all there is all the trekking around, from the packed pub where you can drink but can't eat, to the restaurant where you can eat but can't dance. Then on to a club, where you will have to fork out to get in, always assuming they don't object to the brand of your trainers or size of your hips. And if you fail the style test and are left sadly on the pavement, that's your evening over. Past 11pm, the choice is kebabs, burgers or home.

This is where, the marketing men hope, the supervenue will come into its own. Neither pub nor wine bar nor restaurant nor club, but a combination of the lot, it aims to get you through the door and keep you there till the early hours, by providing everything under one roof. Tiger Tiger, which opened in London's Haymarket a fortnight ago, is the first of the new breed. It boasts five bars, a restaurant, a suitably subterranean nightclub in the basement and a delicatessen for late-night takeaways; it is open until three in the morning, six nights a week.

"We are a one-stop shop," says operations manager Robert Cohen proudly. "There's no hassle like deciding where to go after the pub, losing people en route, paying door charges at clubs and arguing with the door police. Here we are accessible - cool but not intimidating or pretentious. We are just trying to cut some of the bullshit."

Virgin also intends to move into supervenue territory. The company's newest project, simply called the Venue, is still at the planning stage. The Venue too will be aiming to pull in punters for a long day's night, this time into a building that is currently an old hotel in Soho. "Many bars, restaurants and clubs in central London are either not very good or are over-priced," says Richard Branson. "At present something as simple as having a really good time in town after 11pm is out of reach for many Londoners. The Venue will rectify this." If planning permission is granted, the Venue will contain a brasserie, restaurant, blues club, chill-out space and the "pods"; individual rooms linked by bridges to the main space that can be hired for private parties.

"There's no doubt that people get incredibly pissed off with the licensing laws - having to know exactly where to go to get a drink after 11pm, perhaps to an illicit drinking den," says James Kydd, marketing director at Virgin Trading. "The core of the original idea was the question 'What would you want as a punter?' and Virgin have an instinctive feel for the youth market."

Tiger Tiger's Robert Cohen is aiming for a slightly older clientele. The point, he says, is not to try and poach the hard-core clubbers who want to spend the evening in an echoing warehouse, nor to attract those who frequent the trendy It-girl haunt the Met Bar, but to attract a loyal but low-key following. He believes the new venture will appeal to a diverse crowd, from local office workers to tourists.

Tiger Tiger's refit cost pounds 3m. The main bar is dominated by a huge metal sculpted tiger, the floor is blond wood and the decor artfully geometrical with oranges, greens and purples. The restaurant is a combination of Mediterranean artefacts and trendily exposed heating ducts; the club is all marble and zinc, red plush banquettes and rubber stools. The DJ will be turning out contemporary dance and house music - "not old fogeys' music," says Robert Cohen. A typical restaurant meal would be grilled loin of tuna with balsamic marinated vegetables, pounds 10-pounds 12, while bar snacks include bruschetta of artichoke, field mushroom and taleggio cheese for a fiver - a far cry from scampi in the basket.

After only a fortnight, it's difficult to judge how successful the supervenue will turn out to be. But last week, though the restaurant was quiet, there were plenty in the bar. "The best thing is having somewhere decent to go where you don't have to neck your last drink to be out just after 11," says Rob, who works locally. "The drinks prices are reasonable, which makes a real difference from being ripped off in clubs."

His friend Lew agrees. "It's quite a grown-up place - it doesn't get too rowdy, you can have a conversation without screaming. You feel you've got some space."

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