Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Finally ....

We have the keys to the pub. It's been so long. We took them last Friday and have been in the building since then. I would say that I have hit the ground running, and we have accomplished a huge amount so far, but this would be far from the truth. I'm going to get up to speed a little bit more slowly than I did at the Nubes, because I managed to utterly knacker myself out over the course of a year.
To be fair, at the Nubes, I didn't actually ever know how long I was supposed to or going to be running the place. I was only actually brought in for one day to hold the keys until the new manageress turned up the next day, and she never turned up at all. I was running it on a daily basis for a month before Mike decided that I was the best man for the job. And even then we were constantly expecting the company to go bust on any given day, (which it did a month or two after I left the company.) I like to think that I was the only thing holding Hidden afloat and certainly the Nubes was hemorrhaging money when I arrived, and when I left it was the only profit making part of the company left.
Anyhow, we finally have the keys, and I'm really excited. The place is in quite a state, in so many different ways. The council or the old owners ripped all of the carpets out, and so the  bare floorboards are covered in twenty years of dirt and dust, mingled with a smattering of rubble and other roof fixing things.
The first executive decision was to buy a Henry hoover from my nice local electricians, Able Electrics on Gloucester road, which was cheaper than any of the major suppliers would have been. The next executive decision was to cover the Henry with Sonic the Hedgehog stickers, just to make him feel loved. Don't worry, we didn't cover over his eyes at all. He needs to be able to negotiate those flights of steps after all.
Since Friday, I have been generally seen around pubs and bars with a tape measure in my hand, taking measurements and thinking deep into my pint. A lot of decisions need to be made, and most pressingly is what to do with the back of the bar. The Bag of Nails was never really built as a proper pub, and so the facilities are, lets just say they are certainly lacking an amount of functionality. To be honest, behind the bar is actually just shit all around, and I am tempted to just rip it all out and start again. I am generally against people doing this kind of thing, because they are just ripping out something lovely only to put their stamp on a palce, and once they inevitably fail, then the next owners are just left with some kind modern rubbish that doesn't fit the venue. But the Bag was never actually put together properly in the first place, so it makes it difficult to build onto it in a decent fashion. The back bar is just thin hardboard painted matt black, and you couldn't affix any proper shelves or mirrors onto it. So I am in a bit of a quandary between wanting to keep the character of the pub, and wanting a bar that has been built properly in the first place.


  1. Didn't there used to be some nice tiles behind the bar? Of course the old landlord may have ripped them off or my memory is playing tricks on me (won't be the first time)
    Agree rest of back bar a bit naff. There are some good reclamation places in Bristol who might have something suitable.

  2. Bill, I would say that calling them nice is going too far, but they certainly are tiles. I am in no hurry to get rid of them, but the wood that they are stuck to is just rubbish, thin hardboard, painted black.

  3. Hi, I haven't been to Bristol for a couple of years, and really wanted to update my website www.beer-meister.co.uk and include some stuff on the Bag O'Nails as I really liked it on my last visit (fitted in with my idea of a pub re ale 'basic' etc., but saw this blog and guessing the pub isn't open at the moment?
    I'm happy to include something to that effect on my Bristol page, and will keep in touch regarding progress. If you haven't seen my website, it's aimed at people who are visiting a strange place and like real ale (started with football, but too retsrictive, and some plonkers always get disappointed with my choice, so I point that out on my site).
    Anyway, let me know, you can email me at steve@beer-meister.co.uk too.

  4. As post-work frequenters of the Bag over the last 3 or 4 landlords (we did our best to keep it open, honest) we liked the fact that there was no glass racking/lighting over the bar which helped keep the limited space feeling open. If you're looking for an alternative design, we went to a bar in Amsterdam not too long ago where there was no actual bar. The punters came in and took their seats and the barman came and took orders which were dispensed from room at the end of the pub. Wasn't much bigger than the Bag, and was a wooden floored & panelled room. Very atmospheric.

    Look forward to seeing you open.

    Cheers from the Boys at Spark.