Major club revamp sparks chemical reaction in city

Grant Stringer outside The Apothecary
Grant Stringer outside The Apothecary

A Lancaster bar owner has spent £200,000 refurbishing a well known city centre club.

Grant Stringer has also employed 18 new staff to work at The Apothecary bar, in Penny Street, formerly known as The Lounge.

Taking inspiration from cocktail bars in other cities like Manchester and Edinburgh, the new bar takes its name from an ancient word meaning someone who dispenses medical material to physicians.

Mr Stringer, who also runs The Dalton Rooms, 1725, and Hustle, in Lancaster, said: “We had eaten at The Fat Duck, which is run by Heston Blumenthal, and we loved the idea of trying to bring that style into a bar.

“On our new menu we have drinks that change colour, drinks that you can eat, drinks that change flavour.

“We’ve bought in some unusual ingredients for the cocktails, and some very expensive equipment has been needed to make it work.”

Mr Stringer has been training 18 new staff over the last two weeks to become “mixologists”, most of them from the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

“This level of bar work is not for everyone”, Mr Stringer said.

“It’s a tough regime, but these are serious cocktail skills, so we’ve invested a lot of time into getting it right.

“We’ve incentivised it by paying a basic rate initially, but once they can do the job without cheat sheets, staff get another £1.20 an hour.

“All the staff seem to be enjoying it.”

The new venture had a soft launch last week.

Mr Stringer has invested heavily in structural changes to the building, creating a much larger space downstairs by relocating the toilets.

The new bar also reflects the theme of the offering, and the frontage has also been given a facelift.

“Business wise I’m more confident about doing this than I would have been two years ago,” he said.

“Trade is different now, people come out a lot later than they used to, but there seems to be some spending confidence back.

“The idea has been to give people a proper city centre experience, something that Lancaster hasn’t seen before.

“We tend to catch on two or three years after, say, Manchester or Liverpool.

“The feedback has been brilliant so far.”