New Ilkeston acoustic lounge joins pub trade fightback

L-R: Sasha Scott, Sam Taylor, William Butchart, and Rebecca Hall will soon be toasting the opening of their new acoustic music bar The Lounge.
L-R: Sasha Scott, Sam Taylor, William Butchart, and Rebecca Hall will soon be toasting the opening of their new acoustic music bar The Lounge.

The owners of a live music bar opening soon in Ilkeston are hoping the idea strikes a chord with punters and bangs a drum for the pub trade as it looks to fight back from a troubled few years.

Statistics from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) found that 27 UK pubs were closing every week in 2015.

Among the casualties was the Borough Arms, at the top of Bath Street, which will reopen under a new name and management later this month.

William Butchart, his fiancée Sasha Scott and their business partners Sam Taylor and Rebecca Hall will open the doors to The Lounge on Friday, February 27.

William, 27, said: “I’ve worked in quite a few of the bars in Ilkeston, and it’s been a tough few years - but things are definitely picking up.

“Opening our own place is obviously a big step, but I’ve got nothing but optimism about the future.”

The 2017 edition of the Good Beer Guide has heralded a big fight back by the much-loved British pub, but said the key to bucking the trend was a move away from conventional ideas.

Editor Roger Protz said: “While traditional pubs continue to close, new types of pubs are opening at a fast rate and are drawing large crowds of enthusiastic drinkers.”

At the forefront of the changes has been the micropub, and Ilkeston has seen a number of success stories such as The Brewery Tap and the Burnt Pig.

The Lounge will be a fully featured bar, serving real ales, craft ciders and classic lagers, but William and his partners think the combination of music and touches of sophistication will set it apart.

William said: “It’s an acoustic lounge, a chilled out bar with a relaxed, grown-up atmosphere, real ales, food and live music every Thursday to Sunday.

“There’s nothing else like it in Ilkeston, somewhere you’ll always be able to find live acts when you want them, and enjoy a relatively quiet pint at the same time.”

He added: “Ilkeston does have a great live music scene, but you normally have to look out for the posters if you want to catch something.

“We won’t have the big bands on, but you’ll be guaranteed good performers.”

The trio collected the keys two weeks ago after purchasing the building freehold, and have been hard at work transforming its interior.

William said: “It’s been empty for a year and a half now, and it was left in a dire state when it closed.

“We’ve been hard at work every day, a lot of elbow grease has gone into it - ripping out the bar, putting some warmer colours, seating and furnishings in.”

As well as the acoustic ambience, the bar will serve upmarket snacks such as panini sandwiches and tapas dishes.

William said: “If you come in as a couple or a group, as soon as you sit down we’ll bring you something free to nibble on. We’ll have lots of little touches like that, which make a difference.”

William and the team are hoping The Lounge will quickly become a favourite destination for Ilkeston’s discerning drinkers and friendly regulars.

A second report by CAMRA last year emphasised the role of the pub in rebuilding social cohesion, and said: “Pubs need to work harder at persuading people to see the pub rather than home as their preferred social venue.”

William said: “I’m born and bred in this town, and I know people in just about every pub.

“Sam put his faith in me when we agreed to go into business, and I’m trusting that once we open everyone will pop in, mix with each other, then come back again and again.”

The Lounge will also be looking out for acts to perform on stage, look out online or pop in to see the team for details.