about this time last week, maybe an hour later, I had sent a tweet to the Red House Sheffield's new and largely unfindable Twitter account. In it, I asked them what times they opened on a Saturday, as I had been there at 19.00 last Saturday and found no signs of life. I did not receive a reply, and discussed this on Monday with W's K and F. When I returned that night, I received a message from Andy C telling me that he had been emailed by the pub. They had closed after three weeks, and the pub was now back in the hands of Punch.
This is not a surprise. Not at all. So what went wrong?
Well, here's a tip. If you are going to reopen a former live music and DJ venue in a hard to find back street area of Sheffield as a quiet, traditional back street boozer, you should advertise. Not simply put a piece of paper on the door (that is how I found out it was reopening) and let Sheffield CAMRA know, and then a week or so after opening create the worlds least informative Twitter account. No, you need to advertise and publicise the fact via as many mediums as possible.
I heard that Craig and Marie had been successful tenants of the Peaks Hotel in Castleton and the Castle at Bradway. I thought I remembers hearing that the peaks had started selling local real ales, which is a bonus for Castleton (although that is based on my last visit, about 8 years ago) and the Castle has always seemingly had a good reputation for food and real ales. Imagine my surprise then at finding the three real ales they had on their delayed opening night did not change two weeks in. I say did not change - am not suggesting they were the same casks - although the moonshine tasted like it was the first sold that week.
You see, their promises were not that watertight it turned out. For instance, on their advertisement, they claimed to sell local craft and real ales. The range never changed, as above, from Moonshine, York Guzzler and Castle Rock Harvest Pale. Myself and Mr P were in two weeks or more ago, and Marie showed us the Punch finest cask list she could choose beers from, and to be fair there were some that I have never tired, and some I would really like to. She said originally that they wanted to get onto the SIBA guest beers list but two weeks after opening, she said the pub co had confirmed that this was not going to happen. They also claimed to do food and high quality coffee, there is a sign up about food but I don't know if this ever got going. I never asked about a coffee, but I assume the machine required was also not delivered. Or not ordered.
When I last went in with Mr P Marie said she was fed up with it being so quiet - and as I was about to point out the lack of publicity, she said "but what do you expect wi' no advertising". I agreed, but found this a very strange statement. She ran the pub with Craig. Both of them should have been promoting it. It's almost like they opened it and assumed passers by, you know, mainly the Chinese student population would simply pop in and make it their go to place for a drink. Guess what? That didn't happen.
I thought Craig and Marie were friendly, knowledgeable and good hosts. And I only visited their pub three or four times. I can't for the life of me think why they took the pub on though, and did nothing to make it a success. And something that Mr P said, after, as a respected poet and performer of poetry, he offered to put on a poetry night and received no contact about doing so, stuck in my mind. Perhaps the pub company offered them the chance to run the pub badly for three or four weeks, and then agreed that they could leave - so that the pub could be deemed non-viable and turned into flats, like almost every other building of that age locally.
I understand a successful local firm on Upper Allen street have been offered vast sums to vacate their premises so they could be turned into student flats. Am sure that the Red House represents a great opportunity for conversion. If this is the case, and such plans are afoot, that is hugely disappointing.
I don't want to be writing a post six or twelve months down the line about another lost boozer in Sheffield. Granted the Red House has been more of a venue for some years now, but I think it could be turned into the pub promised last month - but not without extensive coverage and advertising, determination positivity and crucially, the right support from Punch. It wouldn't be competing directly with any of their pubs - because there are no pubs locally that aren't independent.
If anyone has any knowledge of the plans for th Red House do feel free to let me know. And if it does reopen as a pub, I would encourage you to visit it in huge numbers to prove it is viable.