Independent pubs form WearOne group to help drive boost to Sunderland city centre - with Halloween cross-venue event planned for October

Independent pub bosses have banded together to help drive footfall in the city centre.

Collectively, Sunderland city centre’s independent pubs and venues are a cornerstone of the area’s nighttime economy, providing thousands of jobs in the sector, whilst also giving drinkers a good time.

Now, more than a dozen pubs from across SR1 have formed a sub-section of the city centre traders association, called WearOne.

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Starting with a fancy dress competition running on the Halloween weekend, they’ll be running events and incentives across their venues to encourage people to use their pubs.

The WearOne Group made up of pub owners working together to attract more people into Sunderland. From left Independent Ben Wall, 7even Nightclub Alan Kay, P's & Q's Michael Watson, Sinatra's Michael Brogan, Gatsby Karen Dickman, No2 Church Lane and students events Samuel Evans, The Point Andy Golding, The Church Door's Dale Percival, Grant Burlinson and Emily Emmerson.

Among those participating is The Point, Live Lounge, Glitterball, Ttonic, Chaplin’s, Ship Isis, Church Lane, Mexico 70, 7even, Independent, Sinatra’s, The Church Door, Bar Justice, Sam’s Bar, Port of Call, Pharmacy, P’s & Q’s, Trilogy and Hidden.

Ben Wall, from Independent and Ship Isis, said: “There is already a traders’ association, but this is very much for licensed premises so that we have a more collective approach to driving footfall.

"It will start with WearHalloween, with each bar providing a prize for the best fancy dress and encouraging customers to share their pictures on social media. Then we’ll have events such as WearChristmas etc.”

Michael Brogan owns Sinatra’s, one of the city centre’s oldest independent nightspots, dating back to 1986, when it was set up by Michael’s dad.

The Ship Isis, Silksworth Row, Sunderland.. Picture by FRANK REID

Over that time, the venue has seen many changes, none more so than the pandemic which hit the night-time industry particularly hard.

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Michael said: “It has been difficult, but people are starting to come back and seem appreciative of being able to go to pubs again. It’s great to have pubs working together and recommending other places for their customers to go to.

"For example, a lot of people come to us before going to Independent, so when they have an event on, we do well too.

"It’s so important for bars to work together, when you go against each other it causes disaster.”

Gatsby in Park Lane
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Karen Dickman from Gatsby’s said: “We are definitely stronger together. Since coming out of Lockdown, things have been better than anticipated and have been quite buoyant.”

Andy Goulding from The Point said: “Having big events at The Point is a real catalyst, it serves the taxis, it serves the pubs, it serves the restaurants with people getting food beforehand. There’s a great variety of experiences for people to have in the city centre.”

In recent months, the city centre has seen a wave of investments in once empty buildings, and welcomed a number of new additions such as Spent Grain in John Street, Cafe 1851 at Mackie’s Corner, Proven People in Burdon Road and Spot White in the old Pizza Hut site in Waterloo Place.

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The Point is back open for events following a refurbishment.

Other new additions include the auditorium at The Fire Station, a brand new £18m mid-size venue which will open on December 10, and the new Pop Recs site at the far end of High Street West.

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