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New Venue Discussion... University Arms & Others

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Post  Evilevan Tue 04 Aug 2015, 22:25

Well I thought the Mulberry Tavern was OK - No charge for the room, good lighting and seemed plenty of space. Wasn't a great selection of beers, and drink prices seemed a bit steep, but I'm only ever going to buy 1 drink anyway cos I'm driving. I'm not bothered by the parking issue. So for me It's fine. Happy to go there again. (although I'm still in favour of the Harlequin as the best alternative  Shocked )
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Post  PaulC Tue 04 Aug 2015, 23:21

evan wrote:Well I thought it was OK - No charge for the room, good lighting and seemed plenty of space. Wasn't a great selection of beers, and drink prices seemed a bit steep, but I'm only ever going to buy 1 drink anyway cos I'm driving. I'm not bothered by the parking issue. So for me It's fine. Happy to go there again. (although I'm still in favour of the Harlequin as the best alternative  Shocked )


This ^
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Post  DaveB Tue 04 Aug 2015, 23:28

My tuppence-worth:

Drinks selection was awful on the non-alcoholic side - J20 was the total choice range.

Decent amount of space and the tables/chairs were decent.

Lack of parking was a pain but it's survivable...

On a personal note it's quite a trek from home which I'm not so keen on.

Does the Harlequin charge for its function room?
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Post  psychomansam Tue 04 Aug 2015, 23:53

Well done to Aneurin for sorting a spot for us last minute. Good gaming was had.

As for going back however, I drove round the whole city centre twice, getting stuck in one way systems, just to find somewhere to park. I then had to pay. I have to say I'd much rather pay for a room than for car parking.
The drink selection was poor for non-alcos (most of us) and the bartender was unconvinced by the soft drink mixer he was serving with.
The pub felt seedy and depressing.
The accompaniment by karaoke singers is something I'd rather miss. Advertised as a 'sports and music' pub it strikes me that things could get very loud and busy when events are on.
One recent joiner on our table stated that he would not return if we went back to that venue, due to the smoke drifting in through the doors.
Walking back to my car involved passing drunk and agressive individuals. This could be off-putting for some.
All of this thrown together is why I don't mind being the second person to say I wouldn't go back.

Aneurin asked me to make suggestions. I enjoyed the harlequin when we were there. We could investigate the function room at uni arms as charging policies do change.

Wherever we go, it might be worth thinking about what we give back. It's generally seen as rude to have tables of people in a pub occupying space and not buying drinks. If we want to build a positive relationship anywhere now I suspect we need to either pay a booking fee or put more money behind the bar.

Either that or move out of pubs - which might be an option - but I think most do like the pub thing
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Post  Kes Wed 05 Aug 2015, 00:37

I think there's a misconception that we don't generate much money for anywhere we go. Tuesday is basically a dead night for a lot of pubs. The Redhouse only used to open because Jeff lived there and he might as well be hanging out downstairs where he can serve the maybe one couple that came in. A lot of places do a pub quiz Tuesday or Wednesday because otherwise they will be empty. When we were at Harrison's, they had a pub quiz on and made way more money from us than from that.
Even just on one or two soft drinks, bringing 30 odd people to a venue is always going to be a nice swing from a normal Tuesday.
The search continues but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that we have to scrape and beg places to accommodate us; we are bringing them a reliable and significant revenue they would not otherwise have.
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Post  paulyg Wed 05 Aug 2015, 08:38

My thoughts on the Mulberry last night...
- Not initially as super-welcoming as I might have hoped (not anything bad, just neutral), though I thought that got better as the night went on.
- Really good amount of space and plenty of light.
- Poor drinks selection, though I don't think that's the norm (there are supposed to be 4 cask ales on, which there weren't, and the post-mix fizzy drinks dispenser upstairs wasn't working properly which limited options in the upstairs bar at least). I ended up drinking Becks Blue - good at least that they had an alcohol-free lager. Worth noting that there are different drinks on in the upstairs and downstairs bars, e.g. they have Blue Moon downstairs.
- Good-sized tables - boards not really needed for the majority of games - but not many places to put drinks that weren't on the tables (I saw at least one spillage...)
- They turned down the music for us when asked.
- Plenty of storage for boards, plus the random selection of furniture that Aneurin acquired
- I still think parking is ok. A few minutes walk from free parking (up in the area around the Redhouse) or £1 on-street parking closer. I had no trouble finding a place to park on Arundel Street.
- Karaoke noise from downstairs was distracting, but better when Nicole shut the door Smile

From chatting to the landlady, Fee, on Saturday...
- She was keen to try to accommodate us and mentioned a few things (e.g. they could put the cover on the pool table upstairs if we wanted a really big table space, she was happy to open later with a bit of notice if we wanted to run a long evening, she would potentially do us some free sandwiches if we meet there regularly). If there are things which could be addressed (e.g. better selection of soft drinks) then it might be worth asking - not saying she would definitely do something about it but she might.
- Tuesday nights are generally very quiet, so we'd usually pretty much have the upstairs to ourselves (like last night)
- She has the lease for at least five years

I couldn't make it when we did the trial night at the Harlequin a few months ago, so can't compare it with that (which seems to be the favourite amongst those who did make that night?)


Last edited by PaulG on Wed 05 Aug 2015, 09:04; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : fixed typo)
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Post  DaveB Wed 05 Aug 2015, 09:02

Covering the Pool table could be good if people wanted to do an Epic X-Wing battle or Space Hulk or something. If staying here is the choice of the club I'll be OK with that Smile

Regarding the Harlequin - I don't think I'd want to use that pub in the same arrangment as last time we played (we were in the main bar area and it was rather noisy and quite cramped) but they do have a function room that I'd be interested in checking out.
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Post  PaulC Wed 05 Aug 2015, 09:33

The Mulberry isn't perfect, but I think it ticked most of the boxes - and Aneurin deserves a great deal of credit for sourcing a new home (temporary or otherwise) as quickly as he did.

They clearly want us there, having provided storage and the promise of sandwiches. It has it's faults, but so will every location - board gaming Shagri-La doesn't exist (at least not until I win the lottery and set up my board game cafe). If we find somewhere better, great, if we don't I'll see you at the Mulberry next week.



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Post  PaulC Wed 05 Aug 2015, 09:33

DaveB wrote:Covering the Pool table could be good if people wanted to do an Epic X-Wing battle or Space Hulk or something.

...and Christmas Pitchcar!
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Post  DaveB Wed 05 Aug 2015, 09:52

Paul wrote:
DaveB wrote:Covering the Pool table could be good if people wanted to do an Epic X-Wing battle or Space Hulk or something.

...and Christmas Pitchcar!

Yes! Absolutely! Smile
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Post  Aneurin Wed 05 Aug 2015, 09:56

Opinion seemed split 50/50 on the Mulberry Tavern. 3 main issues for people were parking, soft drinks and music. Most of this has already been mentioned but these are my thoughts...

Pros...
I thought the space was great - we pretty much filled upstairs and had it to ourselves - if push came to shove I even think we could expand slightly (over the pool table - dance floor - little snug where the boards are).
Seats were ample
Lighting was perfect - I could actually see what I was playing.
Storage - Fee is happy to keep the boards for us.
Just seemed a lot more looked after than the Redhouse - including the toilets
Great public transport links

Cons...
We have to pay for parking and it's a walk away.
Bar-staff took a while to warm up to us.

Indifferences...
The music didn't bother me at all... it was easier on my ears than the crap Danny use to play at full blast.
Fee has offered to put sandwiches on for us (maybe this offsets the £2/£1 parking?)
Drinks - I didn't see a problem with the soft drinks... but then I generally poison my body with coke.

DaveB wrote:
Drinks selection was awful on the non-alcoholic side - J20 was the total choice range.

What exactly was missing? If people have specific requirements/wants I can ask Fee if it would be possible to stock these. She did seem quite accommodating and if it means more money behind the bar then that's good.
Talking of money...

Kes wrote:I think there's a misconception that we don't generate much money for anywhere we go.

The problem is this is a bit of royal 'we'. I've had it mentioned to me by both members of the club and now Danny/Jeff at the Redhouse (without prompt) that a significant number of people only drink water (if at all). If the whole club took this stance - what would be in it for the pub? I'm guilty for eating food that we as members provide for each other... and as Sam (and Karl's sticky post) points out...

psychomansam wrote:
Wherever we go, it might be worth thinking about what we give back. It's generally seen as rude to have tables of people in a pub occupying space and not buying drinks. If we want to build a positive relationship anywhere now I suspect we need to either pay a booking fee or put more money behind the bar.


We really do need to build a good relationship (like we had with Jeff).

As a club we filled a pretty big space in the Mulberry Tavern last night. Other customers may be put off from coming in if they see and event on and can't get a seat because we occupy every table. If they see a dip in income they have every right to kick-us out and free up space for paying customers (that's pretty much what happened at the Riverside a few years back). The club is obviously much bigger now... and as Kes points out that does mean if even 50% of people are putting money behind the bar that's more than that pub would have got on a quiet Tuesday night anyway... but again if the pub is open on a Tuesday - it must already have enough people there to warrant it - and then we could be sharing space... or even taking space from their usual customers... which isn't ideal and gives advantage to places like the Mulberry or any pub with a function room.

It really is a tough one... I honestly don't think the perfect venue to keep 40 people happy exists.

Lots of people mentioned the Harlequin - personally for me - this is closer to home has free parking, great beer selection - it sounds perfect... but what about the people that use the bus/tram? It's not exactly near for them - or perhaps we should look at no further away from main transport links than the Mulberry Tavern is away from free parking? Why should drivers get the upper hand?

I also agree with Dave...

DaveB wrote:Regarding the Harlequin - I don't think I'd want to use that pub in the same arrangment as last time we played (we were in the main bar area and it was rather noisy and quite cramped) but they do have a function room that I'd be interested in checking out.

The music was far far louder than in the Mulberry - Lighting was worse than the Redhouse (and that was bad!). Last time we asked they wouldn't store the boards... the staff really didn't seem to like us... shut on the spot at 11pm... as people were complaining about the music in the Mulberry (that was in a different room down some stairs) I can't see how this place would be better? The fact that the majority of people see it perhaps as 'cooler' style music should not be a decision we base our new home on. I am however happy to trial it if someone can enquire about the function room and storage space...

I will email the Uni arms about the large function room there. See if I can persuade them to give it us for free - as we are a large group and I work at the Uni. But perhaps we will have to pay for a 'perfect' venue... it would certainly remove the problem of people not wanting to drink as we would have paid for access to the space... we have enough members now to be able to afford a paid for function room. Might mean a weekly fee of £2/£1 depending on cost... (but us drivers would be paying that to park anyway). We would also need to set up an official club structure, elected board members, AGMs - mainly because the club would have to make a slight profit to afford the venue at quieter times... if that's what people want it is an option.



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Post  Aneurin Wed 05 Aug 2015, 10:00

Paul wrote:The Mulberry isn't perfect, but I think it ticked most of the boxes - and Aneurin deserves a great deal of credit for sourcing a new home (temporary or otherwise) as quickly as he did.

Thanks Paul... and Sam!
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Post  DaveB Wed 05 Aug 2015, 10:02

Aneurin wrote:
DaveB wrote:
Drinks selection was awful on the non-alcoholic side - J20 was the total choice range.

What exactly was missing? If people have specific requirements/wants I can ask Fee if it would be possible to stock these. She did seem quite accommodating and if it means more money behind the bar then that's good.

The soda gun was knackered, all they had behind the bar that was non-alcoholic (according to the barman) was J20.

Personally I'm a fan of good ginger beer, but I'm well aware that's niche enough that a lot of bars don't carry it, I'd be fine being able to get lemonade or coke (but not pepsi Smile )
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Post  Aneurin Wed 05 Aug 2015, 10:06

I can but ask... Ginger beer should be possible. The soda gun seemed ok when I had a coke... Anyone else? I'll make the requests in one big text...
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Post  DaveB Wed 05 Aug 2015, 10:07

Paul wrote:The Mulberry isn't perfect, but I think it ticked most of the boxes - and Aneurin deserves a great deal of credit for sourcing a new home (temporary or otherwise) as quickly as he did.

Agreed - it certainly feels a better fit for us than the places we tried out last year.
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Post  paulyg Wed 05 Aug 2015, 10:09

Aneurin wrote:I can but ask... Ginger beer should be possible. The soda gun seemed ok when I had a coke...  Anyone else? I'll make the requests in one big text...
I was first in and ordered a diet coke. It was completely flat and the barman (who is Fee's son) mentioned that he'd been having some problems with the soda gun. I was going to have a J2O at that point but he pointed out that they also had alcohol-free lager so I went for that instead.

I'm pretty sure that they'll get that fixed pronto. I also think I could probably have got my diet coke if I'd gone to the downstairs bar (but I wasn't bothered enough!)
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Post  BeardyTom Wed 05 Aug 2015, 10:33

I think the Mulberry had plenty of positives for me. It was great for public transport links, had a comfortable amount of space and a decent amount of light. It didn't feel quite as cozy and friendly as the Redhouse but that might just be a case of it not being familiar with it, as well as not having the place entirely to ourselves. Overall I'd be happy to continue there.
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Post  Ste Wed 05 Aug 2015, 10:50

I liked the Mulberry, sure I had to walk abit to and from where I parked but I only paid a quid to park there. Can't argue with that. Plus I didn't see any drunk/aggressive people outside but I did leave at 21:45 so can't speak for after that. I too only managed to get a J2O from the bar but I'm sure the drinks gun will be fixed next time. Nothing to be concerned about. The toilets were pretty good too, the ones in the Redhouse were awful. The music wasn't too distracting in all honesty. Finally the free (future) sandwiches and storage of boards is a bonus too.

I agree with some of the others regarding the Harlequin, in the sense that unless we got a better place to play it should be avoided. The light in there was terrible and it was noisy and cramped. Plus it's a fair distance away from public transport links.

In summary I vote (if it's up for a vote) we stick with the Mulberry for a little bit, at least to give it a proper trial. I think it's the best option considering everything wholistically.
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Post  Jamie Wed 05 Aug 2015, 11:54

I was in the Dev Cat last night (which was a little busier than normal).

I asked behind the bar about them hosting us, and they seemed fairly positive, and I've just emailed them to verify and check the board situation with the bar manager. If they're good with everything, would we want to give them a trail one Tuesday?

We wouldn't be in a separate room though. Any thoughts?
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Post  Aneurin Wed 05 Aug 2015, 12:16

Yes - see what they say - my worry for the Dev Cat is that when the students are back it is a very popular spot... and if it was busy when Sheffield is at its quietest?!? this is something that will be difficult to judge until the summer ends - perhaps a trial then would be better?

Kes is checking out the Hop once it is refurbished.

I will email the Uni Arms

Someone will ask about the Harlequin? Lizzie/Psychomansam?

Lets stick with the Mulberry until we have popular opinion. Perhaps its worth a show of hands one evening or a vote on the forum?
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Post  DaveB Wed 05 Aug 2015, 12:20

For what it's worth I just found a post on the Harlequin wordpress site that suggests they don't hire out the function room without a min. £100 spend on the buffet.

This post is from 4 years ago though so may no longer be accurate.
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Post  Lizzy Wed 05 Aug 2015, 12:22

I'll talk to the Harlequin and see what they say.
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Post  Pete_M Wed 05 Aug 2015, 13:13

Shame you've lost the Red House as it was a good venue, but if I'm honest I'm actually far more likely to attend sessions if they're in the Mulberry Tavern as it's just a few minutes jog to my last bus home!
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Post  Aneurin Wed 05 Aug 2015, 13:16

Lizzy wrote:I'll talk to the Harlequin and see what they say.

Thanks Lizzie...
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Post  Kes Wed 05 Aug 2015, 13:35

Also worth remembering we might still be able to retreat back to Redhouse once it's settled down.

I actually parked in a small car park that's free after 6.30. I had to walk a fair bit but didn't pay a penny.
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