Sunderland’s nightlife is booming – business up by a third

Head of security outside of Life of Riley in Green Terrace is Les Ojubana.
Head of security outside of Life of Riley in Green Terrace is Les Ojubana.
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AN influx of new bars and events in Sunderland city centre has seen business boom by almost a third.

This time last year the night-time economy was plagued by bar closures and dwindling numbers of drinkers, who opted to frequent Durham and Newcastle instead.

But the past month has seen a dramatic rise in trade, according to door staff and bar bosses.

Security boss Les Ojugbana is at the helm of keeping punters safe in seven of Sunderland’s bars and is there seven nights a week.

He says that a number of new arrivals in the nightlife scene – such as The Basement and Life of Riley in Green Terrace, and Pure in Olive Street – have helped to drive traffic to other bars.

“Competition is good for everyone as it means you can bounce off each other,” he said.

“In the past month in particular, there has been an increase in everything from footfall to an increase in takings.”

Last weekend Life of Riley, which opened on the former Glass Spider site last month, had 10,000 people through its doors.

As well as new bars, club nights including nationally-known KoosDays - which regularly attracts more than 1,000 revellers to The Basement on Saturdays - have started running in the city.

Another magnet for hundreds of party-goers is Frat House, which runs on Monday nights at Union, in Holmeside.

Established bars such as Ttonic, in Vine Place, are also booming.

General manager Stewart Bowden said: “We had a good thirty per cent increase in footfall in the past month, especially the Bank Holiday weekend which is the busiest we’ve seen in a long while.

“Last year the town was very quiet. We are open seven days and seven nights a week and we always have been.

“We try to do new things to attract people but that’s hard to do when no one wanted to come to the city centre.

“Now there’s more variety, it’s bringing people back.

“It’s becoming busier and better like it used to be.”

Les and his team of staff man the doors at Ttonic, Miss D’s, Cuba, Banana Jo’s, Pulse, The Basement and Life of Riley, and began a new security policy at the beginning of the year which Les believes has also helped to bolster trade.

“We implemented a one strike and you’re out policy, which means if you are a known offender you are barred from all our bars for life and it’s working really well.

“We have a good relationship with the police as well in keeping undesirables out of the city centre, and I think people are becoming more confident about coming into town.

“The street pastors do a great job too in keeping pub and club-goers safe.”

The coming months will see a wave of more new night spots, with Utopia bar opening above The Basement and a nightclub above Life of Riley.

Les said: “The way Green Terrace looks on a Saturday compared to this time last year is so different.

“It’s so vibrant now, but when Liquid, Diva, Glass Spider and Paddy Whacks closed down it became like a ghost town at one point.

“When my friends came to visit it was embarrassing to bring them out because is was so quiet, but I think people can start to be proud of Sunderland’s nightlife again.”