Pop-up pubs set to capitalise on London 2012
Entrepreneurs hope upmarket temporary venues will prove popular at Olympics
The crowds have gone wild. The stadium is emptying. Prince Philip has stunned everyone with a surprise victory in the 100m final. One question is on everyone's lips. Where are we going to go for a drink?
Stratford in east London, home of the Olympic Park, may soon be the sporting capital of the nation if not the world, but it is by no means the party capital. But that may be about to change too, if only temporarily. With many sporting events at the Park not finishing until 11pm– too late to reach most West End establishments before they close – temporary or "pop-up" clubs and bars are springing up around the Park, offering Olympic visitors the chance to party on late into the night – although it won't be cheap. A fleet of 20 canal barge "water chariots" will return revellers to the Limehouse basin in London's Docklands up until 2am.
The Fringe, a pop-up private members club, just 100 metres or so from the stadium by the Park's western gate, is taking over a vast four-storey warehouse and former stables, and is hoping to attract up to 1,800 visitors every night. The building used to be an overnight resting place for the horses that pulled barges up the canals. The animals were led up ramps into their stables, their heads poking out the windows three storeys in the air. What they left behind became valuable commodity in itself, the "London load", a prized fertiliser that was also taken up river to Norfolk.
When its current owners, a sofa manufacturers now based in Nottingham, watched Jacques Rogge open his envelope in Singapore and read out the world "London" in 2005, anyone on hand might well have seen pound signs appear in their eyes.
Come 27 July, the venue will boast a vast outdoor area, giant screens, champagne and cocktail bars, gourmet food options, and a stage with big-name DJs. It will also cost £100 to get in. On less prestigious Olympic nights, a mere £50. The venue will be open until 2am and Simon Thompson, a former advertising executive brought in to run the show, hopes well-heeled visitors will use it as a base for Olympic days out.
"We're not going for, you know, pack them all in and charge them £6.50 a pint of lager in a plastic cup," he said. "We want it to be like a temporary Shoreditch House [the trendy offshoot of the Soho House chain]."
A top-floor penthouse with balcony and views of the stadium holds 50 people, and can be hired for £25,000 a night for the 17 days of the games. The lower penthouse holds 350, and Mr Thompson is courting companies and brands who might want to host functions. He has already taken several bookings.
His main competition is next door. Lance Forman, head of a generations- old smoked salmon business is building a temporary beach club and riviera on land next to his factory and restaurant, complete with Sunseeker yachts in the canal. He is currently in negotiations with a number of major club operators who want to run the venue, which will have room for 2,000 revellers set around a beach volleyball court. Anyone fortunate enough to be a guest in one of his 30 temporary corporate hospitality suites (available for a mere £75,000 for the duration of the Games) gets in free. For everyone else, Mr Forman expects the cover charge to be around a more manageable £25.
Mr Forman is hoping to secure a licence until 4am for the large room at the top of his restaurant, which may have room for another 500 guests.
And for those that are not done, even by then, the Aspers Casino at Stratford Westfield will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the duration of the Games. Quite how many chips they will give out for a gold medal, there is only one way to find out.
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