Born from a love of socialising, debate, flavour combination and making great memories came ‘a small corner of Cleethorpes for like minded folk to come along to enjoy their own society with the finest food & drink; People Bar & Kitchen.
Owner and Director of various other businesses in Cleethorpes, Brett Smith reflects on the last four years and where it all began.
My old job was very demanding, long hours, early starts late nights always being on call and I think that none of that matters if you really love what you do, and I did but 10 years is a long time and I started to get a bit itchy and then those things started to become more noticeable. People Bar was just an idea, a pipe dream really at the time and it wasn’t until I spoke to my friends, Mandii, and my mum of course that I ever really took the idea seriously. It wasn’t a leap of faith in terms of preparation but was an absolute hop skip and a jump of faith in terms of experience. I just wanted to do something I loved which was cooking, entertaining, socialising, talking!
People Bar opened its doors on May 21st 2015 to an invite only soft opening where Brett premiered his cooking skills for the first time to the general public before officially opening a week later for all to see.
If you haven’t yet heard of People Bar then it’s like walking into someone’s front room with comfy sofa type seating, no bigger than your average lounge and as one Councillor deemed it during its previous troubles; too small to operate a business.
When talking to Brett he talks so positively about the journey.
I left Manchester to come home to Cleethorpes, do be back with my family and to eventually start my own business. Anyone that knows me, knows I am a mummy’s boy and being one of seven children the pull of coming home just became too strong. I knew I couldn’t continue my career in the area, Cleethorpes just didn’t have the demand for it but even if it did I just wanted to do something for myself, something I enjoyed and decided the pipe dream was going to become reality; you only live once as they say. That’s what I think about the journey so far, I’ve made loads of mistakes, I’ve had to learn the hard way with certain things, I’ve wound some people up, I probably still am doing but I go home at night knowing that I have not done anything intentionally to anyone in a negative way. The world is full of people he goes on to say, and if we all thought the same and had the same opinion it would be a very boring existence.
Number 1 on TripAdvisor, a Masterchef finalist cooking in his kitchen, numerous beer festivals, food events, menu’s, the introducer of craft beer to the area we could continue in the list of things People Bar has fronted and we are sure there will be many more but People Bar was just the beginning and now with Brett owning and having interests in various other hospitality ventures across the town the obvious question was, What’s Next?
Who knows, when Guy (Keeble) wrote the strap line there were three business plans I had written: People Bar, Society and Folk but then I met Richard (Bride who is joint owner with Brett in Society & Copper ) and Copper was born, I met Roy Horribin during the troubles People Bar had and we’ve now been talking for years about The Kingsway Club, politics, Cleethorpes and its endless grandeur but who knows. Never say never to anything unless you have all the information but this year is about consolidating what we have, making the businesses the best they can be and of course the re-opening of Copper.
With a big smile on his face he continues to talk about Copper, his ‘tet a tet’ conversations with Richard who he tells us is as fanatical as he is with the ideas but I am afraid has sworn us to secrecy during this catch up.
Just passing its fourth birthday, People Bar has been through various changes but it remains true to its ethos of People. You walk in to be greeted by smiling faces, welcoming arms and a friendly atmosphere with usually a classic 80’s or timeless indie anthem and you just don’t want to leave, you find yourself talking to strangers even buying them a drink or sharing a snack it definitely has the feel of a house party with its intimate seating design and the kitchen being literally at the back of your seat but why does it work? Not everyone likes everyone do they, sometimes you just want to go out and be left alone and surely there’s no escaping in here.
Strangely there is space to be left alone, I was taught from a young age to share, I had to I had 5 siblings before I turned double figures and my Uncle Pete ( Davidson who owned Gullivers’ Nightclub ) showed me that when you welcome everyone then the mix of people, the atmosphere the whole event as such is so much more interesting and it just works but there is space to just sit have a quiet pint and try one of our amazing scotch eggs I said earlier I’m consolidating each business, focusing on what makes it great and I’m excited about the remainder of this year and what we have in store.
He’s a passionate talker, exuberant, full of vigour and especially when he talks about Cleethorpes and what makes it great. Un-selfish in his comments he promotes numerous other businesses and how he sees their place in the mission to make Cleethorpes great.
Look around you, it’s full of independent businesses, local people making their name not only in Cleethorpes but some worldwide. I did an article for the Guardian once, they came to talk to me about Cleethorpes and I’ll tell you the same thing; its brilliant, I left and an away to the big city (Manchester) spent the first few years revelling in all it had to offer and like any student leaving home looked back and judged Cleethorpes for its pitfalls but you grow up, mature and when I started to set up businesses ( which formed parted of his old job in HR Recruitment ) I started to appreciate each and every part people like Daniella Draper, Carl Hardy (who owns Bobbin, North & Scratching Post), Paul Grant (Grants 1856) Mel Tillet (Tillets) , Anna Darnell (Abode) and not forgetting my mum (Tina who owns Think Bubbles) play in putting Cleethorpes on the map and I can only hope that what I do goes a little way to do the same. Since I returned home and set People Bar up you’ve now got Message In a Bottle, Docks Beer, Arthurs House, Havana Cabana, Counting House, Tale of Two, The Fishermans Arms has hugely developed since Olly Cleve took over and it’s just a great time for hospitality in Cleethorpes, all these places popping up offering a variation to the normal seaside town bars with a great choice of food & drink and we should celebrate that. It’s a tough time for hospitality and retail alike, I can’t sit here and tell you everything is rosy and all those places I’ve mentioned and people are trying their hardest to capture a small crowd of people with their own offering, to out-do one another as am I but isn’t that great! Competition is healthy, it keeps or it should in my humble opinion keep you as the business owner on your toes and that brings me back to my earlier point again, I am focusing this year on what makes each business great.
With a marriage on the horizon to Mandii, two young children Alfred (30months) & Ted (15months) Brett couldn’t be happier and despite all the demands of family life, business life and everything else he does for the local community and his support of his chosen charity Inspire TCI he doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.
I voted for full pedestrianisation in Seaview Street with this funding available, I voted for the big plaza at the top of the street, I see the evolution of a café culture in that area ( where People Bar & Folk are situated ) I didn’t care about the upheaval, the downturn in trade, the disruption because I am a big advocate of making Cleethorpes the best it can be but I am afraid I was in the minority on this one and apart from Brexit (he giggles) we do live in a democracy but I think it will happen one day. The Seaview Quarter would be great, when people go away to Leeds, Lincoln, Manchester, York; there isn’t parking, you don’t drive in and out you stay, eat drink shop relax and you make it work for you and I’d love to see Seaview Street become a little quarter like these cities have; that for me would be utopia this end and with all the new look paving throughout, the new enterprises coming this year, the great work Ebb & Flo are doing with the beach, the paddle boarding, the new Discovery Centre (Cleethorpes Taphouse & Kitchen) I’m so excited for what’s to come and when I talk to people like yourselves I always walk away thinking, I made the right decision on coming home.
Check out Brett’s businesses on Facebook & Instagram for more details on what’s to come