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Successful club promoter plans more pubs after third venue opens in Clapton

By Peter Ruddick , 05-Apr-2013
Last updated on 05-Apr-2013 at 15:28 GMT2013-04-05T15:28:56Z

The Star by Hackney Downs will become successful music promoter Rob Star's third pub when it opens later this month

The Star by Hackney Downs will become successful music promoter Rob Star's third pub when it opens later this month

Rob Star, a club and event promoter who currently owns two London pubs, has acquired his third site and will open the Star by Hackney Downs this month as part of a plan to eventually operate six venues in the capital.

Star had been on the hunt for his third pub for three months when he first made enquiries about the Enterprise Inns site on Queensdown Road in Clapton; however he was told that a sale had been agreed.

Nearly nine months later he has completed the acquisition of the leasehold of the venue after the original sale fell through - the pub will now reopen on 11 April.

Speaking to BigHospitality, Star revealed he was actively on the lookout for pub number four: “This is the second Enterprise pub that I have taken on and I am always talking to them about new sites which might work. It has to tick a number of boxes – it has to be the right location and size.

“I have got quite a clear strategy of where I want them to be and what I want to do in them but I set a target of six when I opened the first one so I am only halfway there,” he said.

Star's first foray into hospitality came five years ago when the promoter opened his first pub in Bethnal Green after he decided it would be too risky to buy his own nightclub. The Star of Bethnal Green was closely followed by a second, The Star of Kings, in Kings Cross.

Pizza

Following a redesign, the vintage Clapton pub will feature a main circus-themed bar around a carousel which will be a focal point for the venue. An outdoor terrace with a cocktail bar and two upstairs function rooms will also feature.

Local ales and premium spirits will make up the bulk of the drinks menu, while the food will focus on pizza – something which the new pub will share with its two sister venues.

"We started doing pizzas in the Star of Bethnal Green about four years ago," Star explained. "We had a manager there, Mario Denotti, who was very into making pizza in the traditional Italian way. He brought that concept into the pub and we had a chef from Napoli who crafted traditional pizza with a twist."

"People know we spend a lot of time sourcing the flour, the tomatoes and the other ingredients. The kitchen isn't massive in the new pub so I think it is important to concentrate on one thing doing that one thing well.

“We wouldn't call ourselves a gastropub and people don't come in for a three-course meal. You just want something that is quick, easy to eat and that you can share with your friends. Plus it is quite adaptable - you can eat it at the bar if there is not too much space."

Entertainment pubs

Star first chose to develop a career as a pub landlord in order to run a property where he could put on DJs and live music - the Bethnal Green site was in fact a former gig venue so it had a late license but could also operate as a traditional pub during the week.

Star said he was pleased to see other operators embracing entertainment pubs but revealed he would not have entered the industry if he hadn't been able to operate the types of venues he now does. 

"If I hadn't done that from day one, I would probably have gone bankrupt," he admitted. "That was the main skill I brought to the first venue.

“I had never pulled a pint before, I had never managed a venue before, I didn’t know about gross profits, stock or how to manage staff but I knew I could get people into the venue and make it busy. If I could do that, I could learn everything else.

“If I had approached it the other way round - I knew how to manage the pub and make it look great but I had no one through the door, I wouldn’t have lasted very long,” he suggested.

The new site also boasts a late license and will feature a line-up of live entertainment.

“It is vital,” said Star. “Maybe ten or 15 years ago you could own a pub, open the doors and people would just come in but that is no longer the case. Venues need to offer something premium to get people to step out of their homes,” he concluded. 

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