Upon entering Bar&Beyond on Sheffield’s West Street, two things struck me. One – the place has been designed for a definitive demographic. Two – it didn’t feel like a venue belonging to The Deltic Group.
For those of you not so familiar with Deltic, it is the business behind the PRYZM nightclub empire – vast spaces filled with partying weekend millionaires, who book VIP booths, dress to impress and generally dance until they drop. I once attended the launch of a PRYZM in Kingston upon Thames. It makes me tired just thinking about it. It may not be your idea of an ideal night out, but Deltic certainly knows how to round up thousands of excitable clubbers.
So when Bar&Beyond was launched in late 2015, it was with intrigued surprise that I read exactly what the brand would comprise. A bar that’s also a club, that serves food to tables and has the drinks range of the pervasive pub style ordinarily found in east London. It was a bit of a head scratcher.
“So, right now, you’re in the bar,” declares Peter Marks, CEO of The Deltic Group, when we meet in the Sheffield branch. “You’re yet to go beyond.”
Ominous as my immediate future seemed to be, I began to understand the idea behind the brand. First you have the downstairs bar and second you have the upstairs club – the beyond. Guests arrive into a bar area that’s invitingly open – a space that could easily be misconstrued to be a restaurant, even though it sort of is. A vast, winding bar loops into the centre of the industrial room, flanked by dining booths, high tables with stools, the odd arcade machine, cinema seats and a whole host of brand-defining graffiti. It’s the ever-present skull logo that has been chosen for Bar&Beyond that will allow guests across the UK to identify with the venues. Ironically enough, this symbol of death gives life to the concept.
Marks and I sit down to enjoy a couple of Elvis Juices from BrewDog (which has four beers on the drinks list alongside other craft beers and mainstream brands), before we head ‘beyond’. The drinks menu is spot on for what Deltic is doing here – a strong list of recognisable, yet perceivably premium, brands that allow guests to splash out or enjoy a relaxed drink. The menu design features stencilled spray-painted sections, nodding once again to the urban graffiti theme of the whole venue. What’s more, the cocktails that can be found on page one tee the customer up for the influence of Americana found in the food menu. Drinks such as Bourbon & Biscuits (Jack Daniel’s, Disaronno Amaretto and Pepsi) sit next to some hard shake options. How does Baileys, Kahlua, Oreo biscuits and chocolate syrup blended with milk and cream sound? Order the Rookie Cookie for £8 and find out for yourself.
With the food, don’t expect kitchen produce befitting of the latest hit gastropub on the circuit – that’s not the point of Bar&Beyond’s offer. Customers are able to choose from a menu that seems to say ‘grab ‘n’ stay’ as opposed to ‘grab ‘n’ go’. There are nachos, chicken wings, loaded chips, sharing platters, burgers and dogs. There’s no point dressing it up – this is indulgent food perfect for millennials to share with friends over a few drinks before taking on a big night out. What Bar&Beyond aims to do is capture that group and keep them there as the night turns into a party.
‘Beyond’ is indeed upstairs, and suddenly the venue seems a little bit more Deltic. This is a club space that blends the tastefulness of talented graffiti with the roughness of a warehouse rave. Aside from a shedload of space, there’s a small bar, a few booths that are purposely a bit worn and torn, and Instagramable neon lights. You can only imagine how many guests will be posing in front of the ‘You’re Beyond Beautiful’ sign that sits glowingly above a booth. It’s clever branding. As we’re there before the upstairs is open to the public, there was to be no demonstration of the sound system, but Marks assures me of just how serious it is. There can’t be too many warehouse raves with kit like this fuelling the party, that’s for sure.
You’ve got to admire Deltic’s ability to deliver concepts that look as though they’ve been created by the customer, for the customer. In reality, it’s just another bar (and beyond) that’s been conceived and delivered by a group of operators who pay close attention to what their target guests want from the modern on-trade experience. There’s good beer, hard shakes, greasy food, cracking service, and contemporary music that’s played loud. On top of that, it’s branded and scalable – there are already five up and running around the country. For a business that’s familiar with the expansion opportunities around the whole of the UK, Bar&Beyond could well be a concept that we’ll see a lot more of in the months and years to come.