Brighton bar in beautiful but difficult venue closes

Posted On 06 Oct 2016 at 11:54 am

A Brighton bar based in one of the city’s most beautiful buildings has closed down after just two and a half years, the latest in a string of venues to fail to make the site work.

By Dan Wilson

By Dan Wilson

Loungers spent a reported £450,000 remodelling 95 Western Road before opening it as Verano Lounge in spring 2014, but last month it closed its doors for the last time.

It was the fourth operator to attempt to make a success of the site since 2001, but like seafood restaurant Loch Fyne, Spanish canteen Pinxto and the Rock n Roller bar, it found the location too tricky to work.

Nick Collins from Loungers, which still operates Al Campo in London Road, Brighton and Modelo in Church Road, Hove, said that their main issue was the difficulty of making the venue work over two floors.

He said: “We are certainly not the first operator to not make a success of that site.

“We closed on September 24 and we won’t be reopening there. It’s permanently closed as Verano. It’s being marketed and we hope that someone else can make a success of it.

“Al Campo and Modelo both continue and trade very well. Here, we just couldn’t get it to work.

“We trade in all sorts of locations. The footfall was relatively strong, but the property being over two levels was a factor.

“It’s a beautiful building – it’s a real shame because we invested a lot of money, and the manager Amy and her team went to a tremendous amount of effort to make it work.

“All the staff were offered opportunities within the business and the vast majority accepted them.”

From Google Streetview

From Google Streetview

The building, with its beautiful glazed first floor frontage and wide curved bay, is fondly remembered by long-term Brightonians as the Plummer Roddis department store’s restaurant in the 1960s.

The restaurant, on the first floor, was known for its glamorous waitresses who wore outfits you could buy from the store. Later, it became part of Debenhams, until it closed in the 1990s.

The bull on the rooftop is a legacy of its time as a Spanish restaurant, Pintxo. The council instructed the restaurant to remove it, but by the time the restaurant went bust, the bull had not been taken down and it’s remained there ever since.

With thanks to the members of the Brighton Past Facebook group for memories of the building’s past uses.

  1. Jeanne Reply

    Saddened but this a difficult spot: bus stop doesn’t help and it’s always in the shade.

  2. Gerry Hussein Reply

    Shame. It needs a much loved Brighton brand with an established following to make this work. Agreed, bus stop placement does not help.

  3. Neil Reply

    Tried it on a couple of occasions as it seemed so promising. However, the food was terrible and a much better meal could be found elsewhere at the same price point. We never returned and I guess many others didn’t either.

  4. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Yes, a shame it has gone. Perhaps a factor was that it was more suited to large groups than to three or four people. And large groups are not so easily come by. Also that stretch of Western Road – barswise – is betwixt and between. It feels neither Hove nor Brighton. And, further west, in Hove before Palmeira Square, such thriving small-scale places as the Bow Street Runner and Coopers are to the side, away from the main road.

  5. JennyR Reply

    Maybe one thing like a Betty’s tea shop would suit the style of the building. Waitresses in uniform, English food like Welsh rarebit, sandwiches, cakes and cream teas etc. There is something similar in Tunbridge Wells called The Nutmeg Tree which is very successful and always busy. Can’t see why it wouldn’t work in Brighton. There’s nothing like it at the moment here.

  6. Chris G Reply

    Yes there is Jenny R – Blackbird – opposite the old Post Office in Ship Street does exactly that…

  7. The Brighton Blues Revue Reply

    They had difficulty making it work over 2 floors? We (The Brighton Blues Revue) hadjust started putting on very successful events in the upstairs space (full capacity at the first one, with 200 attendees overall), with tremendous support from the manager, Amy, and her team. We searched long and hard to find the perfect venue, and are very disappointed by the decision. The Verano Lounge had also become our local, and we had seen it start to gather pace with increased usage over the last six months. We can’t help but think that Loungers have jumped the gun.

  8. loc8 Reply

    Not a good place for business((

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