We rather like The Hope, but it’s never had the same character as somewhere like Sticky Mike’s or The Green Door Store. That’s about to change in a very big way. We’ve had a tour of the building site that will become The Hope & Ruin and it’s blown us away. A lot of what we were told by new manager Sally ‘Sticky Mike’s’ Oakenfold is top secret until opening night (stay tuned for details), but here’s what we can tell you.
Re-opening on Thursday 12th February, there’s a huge list of improvements, including an increased capacity for gigs upstairs, a full food menu, an expanded range of craft beers, brewery fresh lager, and a very different new look that came from the team travelling in eastern Europe where bars are frequently cobbled together out of reclaimed spaces using anything the owners can get hold off.
With that feeling in mind the magnolia has remained in the tin, in favour of leaving the chips in the old, well-used paintwork and exposing the age of the worn wood. The effort instead has been put into ingenious use of found objects to make the bar look like nothing you’ve seen before. There’s so much going on that you might miss some things on the first visit, but some of the reclaimed objects are so big you could literally live inside them.
The venue upstairs has become a much more practical live music space from simply moving the bar to the back of the room. That’s considerably more easily said that done, by the way. The stage is higher (and larger), the air-con more powerful, the bands bigger, the programming more dynamic. Unmissable gigs like The Strokes, Adele and Bonnie Prince Billy (who have all played in the venue) are only going to increase. The support of the local music scene will remain, as well as making space for upcoming acts like top-selling songwriter George Ezra and 2015 BRIT Award Critics’ Choice winner James Bay, who both played in 2014.
For the first time there’ll be a full food menu of interesting dishes, including vegetarian and vegan options, Sunday roasts and an express menu for punters attending shows upstairs. The bar’s expanded range of beers now features a continental-style tank lager: smooth, unfiltered and unpasteurised beer poured directly from the tank into your glass, completely brewery fresh.
Of course there’ll be DJs at the weekend and acoustic evenings, but there’ll also be nights for zine-makers, writers and artists.
Is that enough for you to get excited? If not, get your eyes in there when it opens – if it all comes to plan it’ll make them fall out.