Proud Cafe Owner & Muso
Chatting to Ian of Vinyl Groove Café
Me: What was the idea behind the Cafe
I’ve been very passionate about music since being a teenager and jumping straight to where we are I now, I wanted to combine ALL of my passions, music, technology, food and coffee!, so Vinyl Groove Café ticks all the boxes for a music lover!
These premises have been a café in some shape or form for about 30 odd years. I was aware that the area is not short of lovely cafes, so I needed to do something that would make it stand out of the crowd.
The journey has been an interesting one and it will be our 3rd year anniversary in April 2018. We ‘rebranded’ in Summer 2015. We didn’t want it to be JUST where people came to drink & eat, but more a chilled space with interesting art work, fantastic music and an opportunity to browse & of course buy, competitively priced vinyl too.
The varied cross section of customers say it’s a ‘cool’ place to come and meet friends, a social hub. It’s difficult to define our appeal, but whatever it is, it’s working and it’s very gratifying to see customers return on a regular basis bringing friends and family. So word of mouth really does work!
Me: You seem to be very focused on the ‘customer experience’
Yes, in any business you cannot rest on your laurels, and we love to find ways to reward our faithful customers and attract new ones. We recently launched our Black Diamond Card for selected regulars giving them a few extra little perks. The food is always fresh and the menu is updated weekly with creative dishes not normally found in your average café.
If you just want coffee we have a wonderful & beautiful retro Expresso Lever Machine, the only one in the area, and all the staff are Barista Trained.
Talking of the team, all this would not happen without them, and have to say I think at this moment in time we have the best one yet, with Marc & Matt in the kitchen and Shelley, Abby & Ryan front of house who are in equal parts enthusiastic and creative, and we positively encourage some of their ideas.
Me: (Comment) Maybe this is why in less than 3 years they are No 5 out of 143 on Trip Advisor! HERE
Me: Tell me about your ‘Extra Curricular’ activities
It was just over a year ago that I ventured into promoting live music ‘Vinyl Groove Presents’ with a huge (and arguably most ambitious and potentially crazy) first gig at Lowther Theatre with the Haggis Horns & Captain Accident & the Disasters …….talk about throwing yourself in at the deep end! Happy to say it was a tremendous evening!
(I agree, I was there & danced all night)
We have followed this up with smaller, more intimate sessions here in the café, and our very popular music quizzes. The last one in December we introduced local singer song-writers Matt Arcade & Johnny Bullit
Not forgetting the visual art. We feature local artists work and last year we were lucky to have Ben Riley here demonstrating how he creates his unique pieces of art using broken vinyl and record dust, watch here on YouTube
Me: So, what do you do in your ‘spare’ time?
From a very young age I just loved & embraced music, all genres, and could just not listen to enough!
I have an extensive record collection with just over 5,000 vinyl records and find it easy to lose myself listening to my hi-fi system at home with a glass of wine, just the perfect way to relax and unwind. Although most weeks I head to Manchester watching gigs at the Apollo, Deaf Institute, Gorilla, Night & Day Café, Albert Hall& The Ritz.
If not there then I’m attending music festivals around the country, the two most recent where the Green Man Festival in South Wales and (a spur of the moment thing) I was invited to AMERICANAFEST in Nashville and as it was so last minute I didn’t have time to do my research, which in the end, became a positive outcome, as I discovered at least 10 bands/artists that I had never heard of before. You may think that Nashville is synonymous with ‘Country’ Music, but it isn’t just that, think more ‘Roots’, Blues & Jazz too. The nice part about it too, it’s not one huge field but 300 gigs dotted across well known venues around Nashville. My favourite two venues were The Blue Room at Third Man Records (Jack White’s label) and in the garden of Fond Objects record store. All you had to do was buy a wristband at $75 that covered you for the whole week (what a bargain). Some of the highlights were Aaron Lee Tasjan, Lilly Hiatt, Robert Cray, Hayes Carll, JD McPherson and The Drive By Truckers.
It’s difficult to define my taste, as will pretty much listen to anything, as you never know who you will discover! I also have a great network of like-minded friends and we share our knowledge plus it’s really fantastic to discuss & get recommendations from customers and also find that BBC Radio 6 is a brilliant source of new music.
I already have a packed 2018 featuring the Festival No 6 in Port Merion with ‘THE THE’ headlining, Josh Rouse in Manchester, Roger Waters and Eric Clapton in Hyde Park, The National & War On Drugs in London and finally back to AMERICANAFEST in Nashville in September.
To wrap it all up as I could talk about my favourite subject for hours, I just get such a buzz introducing a new artist/band to one of my customers, and especially them walking out with an album on Vinyl…. It’s all part of the service!
Thanks Ian………I’m going to look up some of those artists you mentioned (and I did)!