A well-known Stalybridge club is to reopen with a new name and management and it is hoped it will help revive the “dying” nighttime economy in the town.
Tina Harrison has had a licence application accepted by Tameside Council for the former Rififi club on Market Street that will become the Platinum Lounge and Khaleasi Nightclub.
She has leased the former cinema and bingo hall from owner John Downes and the PR poster for the new venture boasts ‘1 venue, 2 rooms for 900’.
And John Gregory, Tameside Council’s licencing officer, views it as positive and is confident there will be no repeat of the trouble that forced the licence to be revoked in early 2013.
He explained: “The application has been very carefully scrutinised by the relevant authorities, including police, fire, environmental health and trading standards.
“And as there were no objections from the authorities and the public, the licence was granted.”
Mr Gregory believes it is important the venue did not remain unoccupied: “If it remained empty for much longer it would suffer structural damage.
“I am hoping it will have a positive effect. There has been a number of clubs/bars that have closed and the night time economy in the town that seems to be dying.
“Hopefully this venue re-opening will reverse the decline in footfall and be positive for the town.”
Stalybridge South’s Cllr Basil Beeley, who serves on the borough’s licencing committee, described events that led to the previous nightclub closing as “horrific”.
He said: “I have spoken to licencing officer John Gregory and very vigorous checks have been made in the light of previous problems.
“The club’s CCTV will be linked to Tameside Council’s so they can act in the event of any trouble occurring. They will also have staff trained specially to deal with any problems.”
Cllr Beeley says he has been reassured by what he has heard about the management of the new club.
He continued: “When the nightclub closed there was a lot of upset, but we were quite right to close it because it was horrific and that was down to bad management.
“It has surprised me that nobody has come forward since it closed to apply for a licence.”
Cllr Beeley added the closure of the previous nightclub had an adverse effect on the local economy.
He explained: “Many people came to Stalybridge to visit Rififi and other clubs.
“Once it closed less people came to town and as a result a number of other clubs shut.
“We want to provide work and also for people to be entertained, but don’t want fighting in the streets.
“Hopefully the new nightclub will be for the good of the town.”
The new licence permits the Platinum Lounge and Khaleasi Lounge to open between 11am-1.30am Monday to Thursday and Sunday while the hours for Friday and Saturday will be 11am-3.30am.
The new owner, Tina Harrison, is hoping to open the club at the end of November after a refurbishment.
She said she is “excited, but nervous” about her plans, which will create around 30 new jobs.
The 37-year-old said: “It is something I have wanted to do for a long time – create a Manchester-style venue in Stalybridge that offers something special and exclusive on the doorstep, without the taxi fare home.
“There will be things like podium dancers, fire eaters and stilt walkers to provide entertainment.”
Management, bar and security staff will number approximately 30 and Tina says the new venture will bring revenue and employment to the town.
Anybody passing the former cinema will have noticed scaffolding has been erected as Tina carried out a refurbishment ahead of the re-opening that will be before Christmas.
She added the building is structurally sound so the makeover mainly involves repainting and a new colour scheme.
“The building is in fantastic condition and has been well maintained so it is simply giving it a facelift. There won’t be any structural changes as everybody loved the old Rififi,” she explained.
Tina, who used to have the Attic Lounge in Hyde, says the Stalybridge venue is on a different scale.
She explained: “The Attic Lounge had a capacity of only 100 whereas this one will be 900.
“It will take a lot more managing which is why I am excited but nervous. I have given up the Attic Lounge to concentrate on this.”
Tina, whose day job is a PE teacher at All Saints RC College, Dukinfield, says she has worked closely with the police and local authority who both backed the venture.
She added there will be an area for vulnerable young women and also a drinks awareness area where customers can take a time out, both with trained staff.
Tina, a former pupil at St Paul’s Primary and Copley High School, has also been a DJ for the last 16 years working with Ministry of Sound and Hedkandi.
Tina, a graduate in sound engineering at Salford University, believes her vast experience in the industry, working as a DJ and managing events, will hold her in good stead for her new venture.