Stunning transformation of The Empire
Date published: 21 April 2017
The Empire in Rochdale town centre has had a stunning transformation.
The former music hall theatre has had a contemporary makeover, with a simple-but-classic monochromatic theme with sofas, tables and cushions. Hints of gold and stone accents add to the upscale feel and the ceiling has been lowered to add to the cozy feel of the venue. An impressive performance area and a cocktail bar complete the modern look. Colourful floral displays have brightened up the exterior of the building.
Between them, Paul Whitham, who took over running the business last September, and DJ Jon ‘DaFox’ Riley, have over thirty years’ experience of working in the night-time economy and have listened to the demands of their clientele, and it shows.
They said: “We’ve responded to the demand that people wanted a decent cocktail in Rochdale rather than travelling to the Northern Quarter.
“There’s a few good bars on the strip, but nowhere was playing a mix of vintage and new music. We definitely have less trouble than other places and The Empire is a safe environment people enjoy. We’re easily accessible with parking on the front and the public transport systems just two minutes’ walk away.
“Friday night should put Rochdale back on the map.”
Two new bars have been installed, and you’ll drink ‘the best pint you’ll ever have’, thanks to the new smart system for beer on tap, with automated filtration and frozen lines.
The venue also boasts an extensive gaming area, featuring not only a pool table, but also vintage arcade games machines such as Pacman, Bandits and pinball. Twelve new televisions and improved lighting complete the refurbishment, proving The Empire have truly catered for all.
Paul and Jon added: “We want to bring community back to the town centre and to come away from the traditional nightclub with a community venue.”
In line with this vision, the venue, which was built in 1904, is also available to hire for events such as christenings, wedding receptions and funerals, and is licensed seven days a week for up to 500 guests. The building features several fire exits, and disabled access by the entrance, complete with disabled toilets and changing area that are readily accessible by all.
Other events being talked about include a pensioner’s club, dance troupes, hosting buffets, shows in the run-up to Christmas and the possibility of bringing back the Miss Rochdale competition and Rochdale’s Got Talent. The duo are also planning to feature day time seated areas under the shadow of the magnificent Town Hall in line with their neighbours on the Packer Street strip.
In line with the makeover, The Empire is expanding its programme of entertainment, with a variety of performances from Thursdays through to Sundays. Expect to see everything from comedians and karaoke to fundraisers and live music from both established and up-and-coming bands.
Paul explained: “It’s nice for the smaller bands who might not get a chance elsewhere to have a stage experience: come down, enjoy yourselves and play some music and we’ll even pay you for your time too.”
Just last week, Manchester Ska Foundation went down a storm with over 300 attending on the night, with similar turnouts expected for upcoming highlights.
Some of the upcoming highlights over the following months include:
21 April - A karaoke night hosted by X-Factor contestant Danny Dearden from Littleborough with three cash prizes
28 April - UB40 Homegrown, the UK’s number one tribute band
05 May - New Identity, a five-piece group based in Rochdale
07 May - River’s Red Carpet, a fundraiser for River Wardley from Littleborough who urgently requires a seizure alert dog
12 May - Noasis, the UK’s leading Oasis tribute band
26 May - Electro 80s: a full 80s showcase featuring lasers and synthesisers
16 May - A Motown night, including the playing of original seven inch vinyls
The Empire is open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, and until 2am on Thursdays and Sundays.
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