The boss of Shrewsbury’s renovated Buttermarket nightclub today admitted the scheme had run almost £1 million over budget.
Martin Monahan, the new owner of The Buttermarket, said ‘no expense had been spared’ during the eight-month restoration project which has seen the overall cost of the project soar to almost £2 million.
He said new top-of-the-range LED lighting, lasers and a sound system had been installed in time for tomorrow’s VIP launch night.
The opening of the Buttermarket’s main arena coincides with a £1.6 million scheme to improve Shrewsbury’s ‘northern gateway’ close to the railway station in Castle Foregate, which started this week.
When Mr Monahan bought The Buttermarket back in January, he freely admitted to not realising the true extent of work needed to restore it to its former glory.
But was he underestimating the size of the project? Not really. It was simply that when he was handed the keys to the historic Grade II listed building in Shrewsbury, and walked through the doors, the venue was shrouded in darkness.
“I don’t think I perhaps realised the full scale of the task at first but that was largely because I actually bought it in the dark as all the electrics needed replacing,” he said.
The county business tycoon took time to speak to the Shropshire Star during a massive clear-up operation ahead of tomorrow’s big opening.
The venue, on Howard Street, is a hive of activity as up to 30 workers race to get it ready for opening night – eight months after starting the project.
Mr Monahan already owns the C:21, Spirit and Velvet nightclubs in Shrewsbury as well as The Peach Tree restaurant but says with great vigour that this has been his hardest mission yet.
“It really has been eight months of intense work and it will certainly be my biggest achievement to date but I’m not sure I would do it again,” he said.
“I knew it was going to be a massive project but it has literally taken over my life but I’ve had an amazing team behind me and I’m delighted it has been done how we envisaged.
“We had to rip out the wiring and flooring. Parts of it were just a mess but now it is looking perhaps the best it ever has done.”
The main arena now features a top-of-the-range lighting rig hanging from its ceiling as well as what has been dubbed ‘the biggest laser in Europe’ and giant glitter ball hanging above the glitzy 12ft DJ booth which adds a touch of bling to proceedings.
Upstairs, sash windows have been installed letting natural light flood the venue, which was built in 1835, and original Tudor beams have been restored.
Even the toilets seem like a cool place to hang out.
Mr Monahan added: “We wanted to bring back the traditional features but with a contemporary feeling and I think we’ve achieved it in bucket loads. It’s kind of the same approach I’ve taken at places like The Peach Tree – in another historic building – and I suppose it’s sticking to a winning formula.
“But I knew we couldn’t just operate it as a nightclub in this day and age which is why The Cellars is very much the nightclub and the main arena is going to be multi-purpose.
“It has so much versatility and we’re planning to use it for comedy nights, boxing matches, cage fighting, live music, fashion shows and Christmas events to name but a few.”
The doors for the VIP launch night open at 8pm to the public with live music starting at 9pm, as bosses say they expect a sell-out 1,850 people to descend on the venue. Four-piece indie band The Making, who hail from Telford, will kick things off before Carol Decker, the lead singer from 80s band T’Pau, who is from Wellington, takes to the stage to perform a live set.
Then, after a meet-and-greet with fans, 2012 Britain’s Got Talent finalists The Loveable Rogues, who were recently signed up by Simon Cowell’s record label Syco, will headline the opening and bring the venue back with a bang.
Mr Monahan added: “It has been a big coup getting The Loveable Rogues to perform here for what is the opening of bringing live music back to The Buttermarket.
“By Friday I think I’ll definitely be having a glass of Champagne.”
After all the hard work, as well as hard cash, taken to restore this town centre nightspot, who can blame him?
By David Seadon