ROSS Mackenzie pauses for thought as he considers the question, what qualities make for a good bar?
It’s easy to define quality in a restaurant or pub but a bar is a many headed beast, difficult to pin down.
“With the Black Dog Ballroom in the Northern Quarter,” he says, “it’s about the location, the feel of the place, keeping the door policy tight, having the right music and crucially having variety.
“There’s a lot going on in the Black Dog, there’s a pool bar, food, different areas to move into. You need a good combination of factors and that leads to a great atmosphere. It’s also about being creative and flexible in approach. We use the smaller pool tables, easier for women to reach across, so the game becomes more about technique rather than strength. Oh and there’s one further thing as well.”
And what’s that?
“It helps to a have a poster advertising the Black Dog Ballroom as part of the Coronation Street set,” says Mackenzie deadpanning.
The Black Dog Ballroom’s flexibility and variety has reaped rich dividends. The venue, sited under Affleck’s Palace, turned over more than £2.2m in the previous year. It's good news elsewhere too. The company's latest venture, the Liars Club, off Bridge Street, is also proving a popular and enduring success.
Now the Black Dog Ballroom is on the march again.
In mid-May 2012 the second bar will open in the old Pure Space venue on New Wakefield Street just off Oxford Road and under the shadow of the rapidly growing Student Castle with its accommodation for 520 students.
The new Black Dog (final name is yet to be decided) will seek to re-create the same speakeasy/diner atmosphere, pool tables and all, as the original.
It will be spread over three floors, including a basement that will be hired out to club promoters, and titled (ho, ho) Underdog. This will feature a state-of-the-art Funktion-one sound system.
The bar will offer pizzas, burgers, hot dogs and salads while the fine roof terrace created by Pure Space will come complete with BBQ station to serve the Black Dog’s signature burgers wrapped in wax paper.
Opening will start earlier than at the original, at 10am to cater for breakfasts and brunch for the vast student market in the area.
"We’re looking foward to seeing how the Black Dog idea works in this locations and over three levels. We're excited about the shape of the space, the roof terrace and so on,” says Mackenzie. “The design again comes from Start JG (formerly Judge Gill).
"This venue will help us refine the brand because we are looking further afield for sites in other northern cities, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield. And also for further sites for The Liars Club concept. ”
It seems the Black Dog has legs - so to speak.
You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield
Want a job with the Black Dog?
The Black Dog Ballroom has started the recruitment process for a team to run the new venue. They are looking for a general manager, assistant general manager and duty managers. Click here for further details.