In such difficult times for hospitality businesses, many are having to develop new ways of connecting with their customers. Mucky’s Bar in Perth has constantly reinvented itself during the coronavirus pandemic with online cocktail masterclasses the latest venture by owner Ricky Kennedy.
Having made its name as an award-winning music venue, Mucky’s on the city’s Canal Street was proving a hit with Perth punters and owner Ricky Kennedy was delighted with how things had gone since taking over the bar in November last year.
Then Covid-19 struck and, in common with all hospitality venue owners, Ricky was forced to shut his doors for three months during lockdown.
During that time, the 33-year-old made many alterations to the premises to ensure they were ready for reopening, but the recent changes to restrictions mean that Mucky’s is now closed again as it does not have any outdoor space.
However, undaunted, Ricky has now done more work on his bar and introduced online classes for customers to learn how to make his popular cocktails in the comfort of their own home.
And when the bar is allowed to reopen, customers can enjoy a drink safe in the knowledge that they are in good hands with Mucky’s having been awarded the Covid Friendly Award from the AA.
Ricky and his team have also produced a video showing how they operate when open with restrictions in place.
Ricky said: “They go through all your risk assessments to ensure you are doing things correctly and we have been quite meticulous in ensuring that we are doing things right. There are so many bars I feel that are being a little bit lax and there are a lot of customers who don’t seem to care.
“You get the young ones in who don’t seem to care, just want to go out and drink like normal, then you get your older clientele who do want to know that things are safe and the staff are following the rules
“It’s difficult and it’s scary times for people, so that’s why we thought we’d make this video and we would go and get registered with the AA, and go through their set of standards which if you get they give you a Covid Confidence Award which is great and it just gives someone else that little bit of reassurance that it’s not only us who are saying we are good at this, it’s a recognised body that everyone can trust.
“It’s tough times just now so I am doing everything I can to make sure there is money coming into the place.”
Having got the keys just over a year ago before opening in November, Ricky could never have imagined this is how he would be celebrating his first year as mine host.
“It’s been challenging to say the least but what I have found it has taught me very, very quickly how to adapt and change,” he added.
“We opened and we hit the ground running and got nominated for Best Live Music Venue in Scotland and we reached the finals for that. We got nominated for Best Late Night Venue as well and got into the finals for that as well and we did really, really well, and then all off a sudden Covid hits which means we never got the outcome and then we had to shut for three months.
“In those three months I adapted the whole place to make sure there were booths, got it all separated and re-did the backroom, taking the live music section out to give me more capacity and then ensured that everything was adhering to all the Covid rules.
“There used to be downstairs toilets that had been removed so I put them back in so we had two sets of toilets. I just tried to dot every I and cross every T.”
But then came the second closure due to the virus when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed the current restrictions for hospitality businesses almost a fortnight ago.
“Because we have had to close again and I don’t have an outdoor space we decided to see if we could adapt and take the pub online,” Ricky revealed.
“Our cocktails and shots are very popular so I thought: ‘How can I take that into people’s homes?’ and I thought a video and online cocktail masterclasses was the way to do that. I am astounded by the number of enquiries that I have had. I have had about 50 or 60. I just need to see that transfer into bookings now.
“We were doing a delivery service, but it didn’t prove viable. By the time I pay my staff and pay my electricity for what I was getting, it just wasn’t worth it
“I feel that the council have done very well giving some outdoor areas that if people want to go for a drink they will go there. If they want to stay at home for a drink they will buy it in Tesco, so it’s better for me to close the doors and re-work things again.
“I have redecorated the back room again. Basically what I have done is every time I reopen I want it to look as if I have done something which I think works really well and the customers are starting to notice it. In the short time I have been there now it’s had two refurbs.”
And it also means that Mucky’s will now have a food offering when it reopens.
“I have just put a kitchen in as well and last week I spent my entire week fitting that. We are going to be launching specialising in burgers along the lines of Five Guys – good quality burgers, keeping the menu really small, really simple,” he said.
“I feel if you do too much you don’t do good quality. We are hoping to launch that next week. It’s all getting there.”
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