Owls, cats and all manner of novelty – what does this mean for the ‘going out’ industry? – The London Economic
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Owls, cats and all manner of novelty – what does this mean for the ‘going out’ industry?

By Adam Breeden, Founder & CEO, Bounce

News has come to the fore that a new owl-themed cocktail bar is set to open in London. This is the latest of the capital’s ‘just one thing’ entertainment, food and hospitality location announcements. From Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, the Cereal Killer Cafe, to Belfast’s crisp sandwich shop, Simply Crispy – and many more besides. Step aside Wetherspoons, your time is limited, the hipsters have landed – but for how long?

Owls and Cats are part of the latest dabble in the more hip side of ‘going out’. It seems like only yesterday that the likes of burger restaurant Byron were considered hip; with 37 restaurants in London alone and spreading through the country at a rate of knots, it’s now just another burger chain. Single-stop shops offer something edgier, backed with one simple yet risky idea behind them, and for the most part, they look like they’re here to stay.

With this new trend we should ask, what do these unique offerings mean for an industry that was – up until a decade ago – relatively tame and straight-thinking on the idea of ‘going out’? Will we see a continued rise in weird, wacky and wonderful ideas? Are they sustainable and what’s next?

Maybe it has something to do with our country’s economy beginning to boom again; with the crises of 2008 and its considerable hangover, the fog is finally lifting and people are seizing opportunities that are being given to them. Indeed, with street food businesses moving from van to residency, and then onto their own restaurant and with the likes of Boxpark in Shoreditch providing fledgling brands with short-term retail commercial spaces allows for the beginnings of a business to be in an extremely thriving environment.

The opportunities are ripe for those with the bravery to at least have a go at what they feel they want to truly do with their life. Not only in a business capacity, but that of a generation of people that are always prepared to try a night out or a new food establishment that is different and refreshing – something to tweet to your friends about while you’re checking in on Foursquare or to liven up your otherwise dull Instagram feed – when else would you #Owls or #Owlsandcocktails?

Perhaps the idea of large corporations hiring out venues for specifically designed events will have lent sway to younger employees having ‘lightbulb moments’ about creating a business from a specific activity or experience, creating the catalyst for the evolution of ideas that are coming into play. Regression Sessions – a night of children’s activities coupled with house and garage DJs – will no doubt have inspired Jump In!, creative agency Pearlfisher’s adult ball park. Byron’s success will have sent creative ideas to the likes Burger Bear, Burgerac and Burgershack – and it doesn’t stop there. But why should it?

The rise in weird and wonderful ideas – combined with a more open mind to hospitality and entertainment (particularly prevalent in the burgeoning young professional networks in London) – should be welcomed. These days, instead of just going to the pub for a ‘pint’, your evening can turn into something of a Royal Variety Performance; a bit of cabaret here, ping pong there, and ending it all in a speakeasy hidden in converted WCs. Why not?

As for owls and cocktails? I’m sure it’ll be a hoot.

Adam Breeden is CEO and Founder of Bounce (http://www.bouncepingpong.com/), one of London’s leading social entertainment venues, located in Farringdon.

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