The new owners of the Palace Pier have revealed plans to revamp its bars and fish and chip restaurant as part of a long term overhaul of the attraction, which continues this month with the opening of Brighton’s biggest soft play.
The pier was bought about a year ago by Eclectic, which also owns Coalition and Dirty Blonde nightclubs, which renamed itself the Brighton Pier Group.
Since then, the pier has replaced some older attractions, including the dolphin derby, installed a new children’s ride inspired by the i360 called the i220, held a Christams Market and opened a takeaway fish and chip bar on the pier head.
Last weekend, it opened a new soft play area and cafe in The Dome, and this morning it announced plans to increase seating at the Palm Restaurant and Victoria’s Bar, and to remodel Horatio’s Bar using its experience of running bars elsewhere in the country.
However, on shore, the group has closed the Dirty Blonde nightclub on East Street and surrendered the lease.
The plans were revealed as the company reported its financial performance in the six months before Christmas last year.
Luke Johnson, executive chairman said: “The Pier has now completed its first full summer under new ownership. We are pleased to report that trading has been in line with expectations announced at the time of the acquisition and that integration into the group was completed much quicker than expected.
“In September 2016, we reported on the new soft play trial in the Glitter Bar, the new take away fish and chip shop on the Pier head, and the launch of the new website.
“The success of the soft play trial has given us confidence to launch the largest soft play area in Brighton, with the creation of a new Palace Play in the Dome, totalling 231 square metres with a capacity for 140 children.
“There will also be a new café in the Dome, providing an area for parents and friends to relax whilst the children play. The soft play and café opened in March 2017, both will provide a leisure space to enjoy all year round.
“The new take away fish and chip shop opened in June 2016 and has been a great success, repaying its investment by the end of the first summer of trading.
“The new website has been a strong tool in driving online sales of wristbands and has helped to offset some of the negative effects caused by the disruption of train services over much of the summer.
“The quick and easy train service into Brighton from London is a major benefit to all businesses in Brighton, as well as the wider population, a resolution to this dispute is urgently needed.
“In December, we launched our first Christmas market on the Pier. Incorporating 20 stalls, it provided a reason to visit during the Pier’s winter season. The additional footfall created by the market benefited the restaurants, arcades and rides during what would be otherwise a quiet period.
“Our plan next year is to develop the market further and consider whether there may be other similar events we could add to the Pier’s calendar during the quieter months.
“As always, the months between September and March are an opportunity to catch up on general maintenance and embark on new projects ready for the busy period from Easter onwards.
“This year has been no exception; the dive survey and annual survey were both completed, resulting in no additional maintenance needs other than the budgeted requirements, so allowing us to commence a number of new projects.
“The first of these involved the move and replacement of the Dolphin Derby, a game that is a big favourite on the Pier but is now 25 years old.
“At the end of February, the brand new Dolphin Derby was installed in its new location next to the Wild River Ride. This move makes way for the new i-220 children’s ride, (which opened in March) and for the improvements planned for Horatio’s Bar. The i-220 will elevate visitors skywards, offering scenic views of the seafront, however unlike its namesake (the i360), the new i-220 ride will take visitors to a less-dizzying height of eight metres.
“Looking further ahead, ambitious plans are now underway to create more capacity within the Palm Court restaurant and in Victoria’s Bar, both inside and outside.
“These changes are intended to improve the surroundings and provide more flexible space for conferences, functions, and weddings on the pier, as well as extra seating during the busy summer months.
“At the same time, we are also developing plans for Horatio’s Bar, utilising the broader group’s expertise of bar management. These exciting developments will start in October and November of this calendar year, and impact trading from 2018.
“Finally, on 1 July 2016 we reported the plan to bring back the Palace to the Brighton Pier name, restoring it back to its original name – Brighton Palace Pier.
“A competition was held to design the new sign for the pier, and our chosen winner was Lucy Williams, a local Brighton resident. Her design creates an archway of the word Brighton to reflect the pier dome, with the remaining words Palace Pier on the facade of the building. Work is underway to construct the first of these three new signs.”