"And so, the end is near and so [we] face the final curtain."
We all know those famous Sinatra (and Dirty Sidney) lyrics. But sadly, for The Crooked Crow Bar, those lyrics may soon be a reality.
Guttingly, The Crooked Crow Bar is finally up and running, the world is finally back to some semblance of normality and our events (which have been fantastic) have been well attended and enjoyed.
Our business plan was always ambitious, we never intended The Crooked Crow Bar to be just another Leighton pub, but we are now well into our second year of trading and effectively, March this year was the first time we have been able to really start to build our business and unfortunately those difficult first two years have taken their toll.
Having seen the business grow to a point we often are turning customers away on a Saturday night as we are already jam-packed, having watched the most epic events take place and having such an amazing bunch of customers, we had naively thought that our survival had become a given. However having just paid the ever-growing quarterly bills, it transpires that it was too early for us to have been complacent and without a MOMENTOUS boot up the jacksie, we are simply not going to make it.
We all know what has caused the problem. To be honest, we have been bloody lucky to have had the success we have had and to survive this far, given the circumstances! Due to the toughest 2 years of crippling lockdowns and restrictions, survival has meant running on low outgoings, meaning that some projects that were going to need time/money were put on the back burner, such as: midweek live music & events, the escape room, food options, theatre projects, marketing, website changes etc.
Despite being classified as a grassroots music venue (GMV) and being a member of The Music Venues Trust, (which has given us amazing support & guidance throughout), we were unable to access government funding that was made available for GMVs (due to the govt requiring a full 12months accounts prior to the 1st lockdown, which having opened in January 2020, we did not have), but we were able to fundraise and to access financial support in the way of government grants/schemes for businesses during the pandemic and this money helped us to be able to get through those first 2 years and also January / February this year, which are always difficult times for the Entertainment & Hospitality industry, despite restrictions no longer being in place. We will of course, continue to apply for funding through all available sources, however, eligibility requirements, funding availability and chances of application success is beyond our control.
The world is still not quite what it was: whilst Saturday nights are marvellously busy, it still feels like people have fallen out of the habit of going out. Fridays nights in Leighton Buzzard have become quiet and while numbers fall a long way short of Saturdays, by ticketing and not relying on (a non existent) footfall on a Friday, we are actually one of the busiest bars in town. Afternoon/after-work trade also hasn't returned to what it was pre-covid, perhaps due to the hike in the cost of living, or because many people now work from home, perhaps it's the side-effect of us establishing ourselves as a venue & not a pub, but more likely it's just something that will organically grow over time. It's just that it is time we are short of!
We have learned through this whole process how to adapt to ever changing rules, how to trade effectively and safely with minimal staffing and outgoings, and how to make our bar a flexible space to be able to host a range of great events. So we are now dab hands at all kinds of events hosting! We are confident that there are no more cuts that we could make to our outgoings that wouldn't impact the quality of the experience our customers receive. Last month was really the first time we were able to get that ball rolling and start to trade as we would like and we have been able to start to push our marketing once again. It's looking likely that over the next couple of months the business will organically grow and we will comfortably be hitting our baseline, break even target each week. However, for every week it takes for this to organically grow, we will accrue a deficit and we think that by September is likely that, despite the business by then doing well, it may be the end of the journey.
So we have a 2 fold emergency plan in place:
Prioritise the events & marketing projects that have been put on the back burner to be able to grow the business to a point it can (comfortably & consistently) wipe it's own face, survive & (hopefully) thrive!
Start a mahoosive fundraising campaign (inc merchandise and events) to cover the cost of setting up step 1 and clear any deficit accrued.
The plan is simple yet bold. Bugger knows how we will find the time, but find it we will! We are optimistic that we can pull this off, but as always, it will be by the skin of our teeth and as always, we will need your continued, amazing support.
The good news is that if we indeed do pull this plan off and there's no further lockdowns, no more global pandemics are announced, there's no mass food/power shortages, the cost of petrol remains lower than a 3bed mortgage, Boris buggers off and Putin doesn't press the red button, by September WE WILL BE SAFE!
Launching in May, we will be offering Pie & Mash on a Saturday & Sunday 12-4pm.
Crow T-shirts and other merch will be available to buy from the bar/website from May
Also in May all events for 2022 will be up on our website
Launching by 1st July, our 1st floor escape room will be open for business
Also by July our website will be fully overhauled and updated.
4x big Fundraiser Events: Crow Fest, Rum & Reggae Fest, Robin Hood The Musical (a summer panto), The Crow Tournament (events will run May-July, details TBA next week)
Numerous smaller fundraising events will also be announced next week, from Cake Sale Sunday, The BIG Quiz, Treasure Hunts and more.
We know you lovely, music loving, piss-heads are all keen for us to survive. But the downside to announcing we need help is that it brings out THOSE people. You know the ones: Steve the estate agent who has drank a beer and therefore is now an expert in how to run a bar, or Susan the Geography teacher, who has been to 2 gigs and a festival so now thinks she is a qualified sound engineer. THOSE people who pop in to give us a masterclass in how to book some god-awful band they once saw at their sisters wedding, or how they think we'd save a fortune if we started shipping in our beer from outer Mongolia, or suggesting we start hosting children's birthday parties or jazz-fusion funk workshops etc etc. Don't get us wrong. It's not that we don't want, and need your help and enthusiasm, however, HELP rarely comes in the form of a patronising arse and we won't be able to guarantee the safety of your kneecaps if we have to spend what is possibly our last few months of trading listening to inane suggestions. #MansplainingIsNotCool #SodOffKaren
WHAT YOU CAN REALLY DO TO HELP:
Please continue to support us. You lot have been bloody marvellous so if you see an event that tickles your fancy but it's hammering down with rain, don't not come down, don't succumb to the evils of X-Factor and take-out, don some wellies and get your butts down here! We NEED you!
Plus, if you have great taste and think that we are awesome, don't keep that a secret. Leave us a banging Google review, share our social media posts, tag us in yours. Tell everyone you know about Leighton's hidden gem of a venue! The till operator in Tesco might be dying to find somewhere to bop on a Saturday night, so tell them all about us! Don't stop there either, tell your colleagues, mum, dentist, mechanic, priest, gynaecologist... we're not fussy, just help us spread the word!
Finally, if you can grab some merch or support our events and fundraisers or simply pop down for a pint, it would really make a difference. Full details of all our fundraising events will be announced next week.
Whatever the outcome of the next few months we will know that in the toughest of circumstances, we opened an independent events bar in an old Blockbuster unit in Leighton Buzzard... and it was ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!
No one could have predicted the journey. No one could have known that when it worked, it would be utter magic! And whilst we have faith that we will survive this, even if this is the last leg of the journey, we are so proud of what we have created and can hold our heads high and feel so blessed to have made so many brilliant friends along the way. But as they say, it's not over til the fat lady sings and at the moment there is still hope!
So, enough with that! Last week was yet another awesome week at The Crooked Crow Bar. We saw the launch of our Mystery & Murder Night, which was great fun. Don't panic if you missed it, it will be returning the 1st Wednesday of every month. Also having restocked our board games, we held our 1st Game Night and it was great. We will definitely be hosting more of those in the future. Then the weekend saw more fantastic live music than you could shake a stick at! Friday we had awesome folk-punk from Bleeding Hearts with acoustic support from Sam Draisey, and after our usual Saturday BYO Vinyl, Stonegarden returned to The Crow stage for a night of epic Grunge classics. Then we wrapped up the week with our Sunday vibes session which was lovely and busy and chilled. Perfect!
It's Easter weekend this weekend and to celebrate we will be bringing you even more fantastic events!
Wednesday 13th April: 8.30pm
It's the 2nd Wednesday of the month as so it is time for our fantastic QUIZ!
With some of the usual quiz rounds, some unusual quiz rounds, silly games, drunken antics, some foul language and a sparkly jacketed host!
Max 6 people per team. £1pp
Over 16s only
No pre-booking required
Thursday 14th April: 8.30pm
We are launching our monthly Jam Night. In house drum kit, pa and desk and mics, amps & monitors will also be provided. You will only need to bring your guitar/bass to play. We will be formatting this event so that we can make it the best it can be, however, first we just need to run one and see how it goes! So this week it will be really chilled, a bit adhoc, lots of note taking! And free entry (over 16s only)
Friday 15th April: 8.30pm
Live music from The 2Tone All Ska's
Let's make Good Friday a Great Friday! Dancing shoes will be required as we will be treating you to a night of Trojan, 2Tone & Ska classics.
Not many tickets are left so get yours quick!
Saturday 15th April:
12-6pm: BYO Vinyl
Pop down and give your favourite vinyl a spin on our twin Technics 1200s +mixer and hear it through our Studiomaster PA
9pm: Live Music from V8
Hard Rock classics from one of the best bands on the circuit. Free Entry
We recommend you arrive early to ensure entry to this popular event!
For more info on our upcoming events this month, visit our webiste: