Adam Breeden on ‘SOCIAL ENTERTAINMENT VENUES’
We caught up with London’s king of the social entertainment venue Adam Breeden to talk about what SEVs are, BOUNCE and his London.
Tell us about your work with ’social entertainment venues’ and how did you get started?
I started out as an assistant dishwasher when I was a student at University; although I didn’t yet have the seniority to operate the dishwasher, there was something about the buzz of the kitchen that really inspired me. It was then that I decided to pursue a career in the restaurant industry that took the whole experience to a new level.
My first leap into business came when I joined forces with my brother to launch The Lonsdale Bar and Restaurant in Notting Hill – we never expected the bar to take off as much as it did, being named the best cocktail bar at the time. Its huge success led me to co-found All Star Lanes – a new venue concept centred around ten pin bowling that created a new path for future venues to come which was an overnight success where I grew the business as CEO.
I then stepped down as CEO of All Star Lanes to focus on Bounce with co-founder Dov Penzik, my third venture which opened in 2012 and was again a instant overnight success beyond any expectation. Quite a thrill the early days were in seeing how the concept matured. This was true incarnation of the perfect Social Entertainment Venue in my mind and seemed to really strike a chord in London. Bounce Shoreditch opened its doors to a second venue in October, we are on site building a huge flagship site in Chicago before a US roll out. Plans also include opening in Hong Kong and across the far east.
In 2013, I joined forces with Steve Moore and Paul Barham to create a venue with a very similar concept to Bounce, but this time based around darts with some incredible automatic scoring and rich game play aimed at completely reinventing social darts . It’s early days but it looks like Flight Club is going to follow the same level of appeal as Bounce has done and we have plans to grow quickly.
What have been your highlights amongst the innovative projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve been incredibly lucky to experience many highlights in my career, especially in the last few years.
But none of this would have been possible had it not been for the first and most memorable highlight of my career, when my brother and I got industry recognition for The Lonsdale as being the ‘Best Cocktail Bar in London’.
The birth of new concepts is always a particularly reward time, in the days preceding All Star Lanes people would have thought me mad to have launched a bowling alley and many of my friends were very worried about this new venture. I was quite satisfying when they saw it succeed.
The same doubters thought that Ping Pong would not work. It took a great deal of thought and creative work to find a way to unlock ping pong as a Social Entertainment Venue concept.
Having got to the point of opening soon in Chicago feels like a big highlight, its not easy and it’s easy to get it wrong and fail to know how to adapt, I have a great team in the US who are starting to drive things now.
Then there’s Flight Club, which again has its doubters, but those doubters thought just to trust it this time! My co founders did a phenomenal job of taking all my advice and guidance into how to execute the concept and seeing it being born is a great joy, knowing that it has such great legs to grow both in the UK and internationally.
Who or what inspires you to make these venues happen?
It’s an interesting one, honestly? What drives me I the love of creating new experiences for people, the creativity involved is immense, it’s the perfect canvas and vessel to channel my creativity. Running my own businesses is a major factor, I thrive on trusting myself and having the freedom to run a business in the way I want. I have also been lucky with timing and meeting the right people at the right time. There seems to be so much mediocrity and dullness in the world and creating something that is one of the most fun night time experiences in one of the most forward looking cities in the world is a great inspiration.
Apart from Bounce of course, what are your favourite places to go in London? (to relax, to eat, to party etc.)
My favourite restaurant is Social Eating House, the food is off the charts good, every time, it’s relaxed and the wine list is incredible value. I live near Hampstead Heath so finding time to walk in the trees with my wife is like escaping from the mayhem of London for a few hours! I love Jin Kichi Japanese restaurant in Hampstead, it’s a tiny place but the food is better than Nobu! I love Barafina and for lunch an amazing restaurant called Spring in somerset house, very special place.
What are your favourite free or cheap things to do in London?
I enjoy winding down by walking on Hampstead Heath, it’s a piece of the country on the doorstep of London, many parts of it totally untouched woodland for hundreds of years, and it’s huge. Also, walking along the canals, it’s like finding a secret warren of undiscovered London, even some roman ruins. Londoners do not get enough of good old mother nature.
There’s so many things to do in London that’s slightly off the beaten track. I try to keep up-to-date with all of the new secret bars and restaurants like Evans and Peel, Callooh Callay, Call Me Mr Lucky etc – I’m sure there’s so many more to explore when I find the time. There’s also some very, very old bars in London that are also interesting to experience such as Ye Olde Mitre and Cheshire Cheese in St Paul’s, nevermind all the secret gardens and nirvanas hidden away in Embankment. I love visiting Kyoto Garden, it’s very Zen.
Every suburb of London always has at least one fantastic coffee place and I look forward to exploring new areas at the weekend. Look Mum No Hands, Workshop, Timberyard, Caravan and Ozone – all guarantee fantastic coffee and atmosphere. I even stumbled upon Bump & Grind in Clapham Common the other weekend – it has top notch coffee and bundles of character, places like these I enjoy finding and re-visiting when I’m in the area.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.