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Curry and a Mantra for Music
By Trevor Krueger - 06/11/2009 - 11:46 AM EDT

Once again I’ve not submitted as many articles to my column as I would have wished, but I have a good excuse! I have been completely possessed by an awesome power which insisted on having its way with me. Intrigued? Read on dear friend.

A few months back an Indian friend of mine (that’s Asian Indian by the way) contacted me to tell me he had a relative with a great restaurant, right in the City of London, but it was struggling. Well, frankly, all restaurants are struggling in these tight times but he was concerned that I should go and take a look – so I did. It’s a 170+ seater situated on the first floor, pretty square and equipped with a dance floor and a small stage. Mmmm, very interesting I thought. Downstairs it has a nice cosy bar to fit around 50 people, a good entrance and so on.

They had no idea how to lift trade and turn the place around. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, here was a great little live venue opportunity just begging for me to coax it back into life. “Does it have a music licence?” I asked. “Oh yes Sir, it does”, “Can I have full control in turning the place around?” “Most certainly Sir – you can”. Are you still with me, can you tell why I was smitten?

Not too far away from “Mantra” is the World famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, recently bought out by no less than Kevin Costner and his consortium. Word is that the Muso’s don’t like what has been done with the place, I hear comments are made on stage to the tune of “It looks like Ronnie Scott’s – but nah, it can’t be”. So anyway, I thought, let’s take ‘em on and let’s create a new music venue that also sells London’s best and most popular English food – Curry!

Great food, great music, great location... can’t fail surely? Well, it shouldn’t fail but the cause of its previous demise has been the faltering fortunes of the City boys who have lost bonuses or worse – their jobs. Banking is not the business to be in right now, some would say. So, it’s also hard to raise funds for development. At one time Banks would have fallen over themselves to tie us into bondage with a fat interest loan for a costly venture, but right now all you can see are white knuckles as they grip tightly on the pages of the Financial Times which they hold in front of them to hide from view.

Drinks and entertainment licences have to be upgraded, new carpets, a posh bar, etc all have to be refitted along with a better stage and PA system. But who will pay? The owner is either contemplating doing the drunken bar version of impersonating an Elephant by first pulling out his trouser pockets, or he is showing me he has no money. So, after 3 months of considerable effort to make the most of what we had to work with I have finally had to call a day on my involvement and walk away.

No more do I dream of live acts on stage, competing with other music venues, showcasing new acts, setting up a label to release new artists or even turning the place into a Bollywood nightspot. Instead it would seem the place has to drift into darkness until new money or an investor is found. It was a nice dream while it lasted though and there’s still a chance a solution will materialise. Who knows?

If you want to see the place you can do so at make it quick, before they turn the lights out!

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