FEATURE: The Cluny | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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As NARC. went to press last month, it was announced that hugely popular Ouseburn bar and venue The Cluny had been bought by Mi Viejo Fruta, a company headed up by Julian Ive, who left The Cluny last year after more than a decade. This seems like a positive move both for The Cluny itself and the Ouseburn as a whole, so we caught up with Ive, venue manager Joel Thomson and general manager Mick Rolfe to find out a little more.

Owning the venue had been an ambition of Ive’s for some time, and when he approached the owners Cameron before Christmas, they agreed to sell. “It really is a dream come true for me and I feel both honoured and humbled to be in this position.”, exclaims Ive.

“It definitely became clear quite quickly after Julian left last year how much of a complete one-off The Cluny is and that having someone in charge who knows the place inside out, as well as the local community, was absolutely vital.” adds Thomson, adding that they now have “a team of people who have had a great love for The Cluny and the Ouseburn Valley as a whole for a long time!”

from the off, we’re re-establishing those links, getting the old vibe back

In the short term, the plan is to focus on settling in and revamping the bar area after some significant capital investment in the venue earlier this year – “giving the place some much-needed TLC and reminding people that we’re here and not just a venue.” As Ive explains, “Joel has been doing a great job with that side of things, but I think the bar had become a bit stale and people had simply stopped coming in for a drink or a bite to eat. We’re very much of the belief that the valley is a special place where local businesses support each other, and that had fallen by the wayside. So from the off, we’re re-establishing those links, getting the old vibe back and we’ll move onwards from there. This is a long-term project, we have a seventeen-year lease.”

“For the moment, it’s just a case of us giving the place a much-needed lick of paint to brighten it up and also to make our mark,” adds Rolfe, detailing some of the upcoming changes to the bar. “The kitchen & menu will also be getting a revamp in time for the impending summer months & talking of summer, and we’ll be running a BBQ outside on the bank holidays and busy weekends too!”

“Gig-wise, we’re programming a week of gigs in both venues and the main bar in the first week of November to celebrate our 15th Anniversary.”, Thomson says.  “We already have some amazing acts confirmed. The first load of headliners will be announced at the end of May. All very exciting!”

And in the longer term? “The exciting thing as an independent business is that we can do what we want without dealing with layers of management”, Ive enthuses. “We’re all hands-on here but I want to stress that going forwards this is a collaborative effort, we all have ideas and we’ll all get to implement them.  Everyone here loves the Cluny, we all love beer, good food and of course we all love music.  We all have really diverse tastes and can all bring something different to the table, hopefully building on the excellent history of the venue and taking it to greater heights.”

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