Burning Night Group grows with multi-site Bierkellers


06/08/2015 Pics (C) Huw John, Cardiff.

Peter Robinson talks to Mark Ludmon about Burning Night Group’s growing success

German-style beer halls are springing up all over Britain, from Bristol to Edinburgh, but Burning Night Group is something of a veteran after opening its first Bierkeller entertainment complex in Leeds nearly six years ago. Since then, it has gone on to open more in Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff – plus a short-lived outing to Blackpool – and is on the look-out for more sites.

Alongside founders Alex Hazzard and Allan Harper, operations director Peter Robinson, aged 29, has been part of its success from the start. While doing a business studies degree, he worked at Sports Café in Leeds and stayed on as general manager after the site was acquired by Burning Night Group and turned into a Bierkeller in 2010. After rising from area manager to regional manager, he became operations director two years ago.

BIERKELLER CARDIFF

Fundamental to the venues’ success is they are more than just a bierkeller, with three different bars, each promoted as separate destinations to appeal to different types of customers. “They are all completely different – different staff, different uniforms,” Peter says. “We almost try to run them as three different venues.”

The Bierkeller itself has the widest appeal with its mix of beer, food, “stein cocktails” and live music, attracting men and women from 18 upwards, specialising in packages for groups. Shooters Sports Bars are aimed mainly at a male crowd while Around the World is more female friendly, specialising in food, cocktails and acoustic music. However, many people see them as a whole night out under one roof, Peter adds. “You can start by watching sports in Shooters, move on to Around the World for food and cocktails in the evening and then enjoy live music in the Bierkeller.”

Designed in-house, the complexes share many features but differ slightly to suit each site and demographic, such as the craft beers on draught in Shooters – Welsh beers from The Celt Experience, Tiny Rebel and Crafty Devil as well as SA Brain can be found in the Cardiff venue that opened in August last year.

Peter says they will stick to the winning formula of a three-concept complex with their plans to open in another 10 locations over the next three years. Next up will be the former Walkabout site in Nottingham, which is due to open in June. Covering 28,000 square feet, it is larger than existing sites which are mostly 21,000 to 23,000 square feet.

At the same time, Burning Night Group is looking to develop other parts of the business. As well as its tenanted and managed pubs and bars such as The Sandgrounder in Southport on Merseyside, it unveiled contemporary bar and restaurant concept The Potting Shed (pictured below) in Bingley, West Yorkshire, in March last year. There are plans for more including a second due to open in Beverley, near Hull, this year. “We are growing year on year, proving there are opportunities if you have the right offering,” Peter adds.

potting shed bingley

Originally published in the February 2016 print edition of Bar magazine.

Previous New deal brings Victory beers from Pennsylvania to the UK
Next Agenda confirmed for the 2016 Canadean Beer Strategy Congress