Big changes are coming to the Friar Street club
A “high-end” craft beer and gin bar is set to open in Reading complete with open kitchen and games room.
A troubled town centre nightclub is set to be transformed into the new venue, which is due to open at the end of May.
Matchbox in Friar Street is set to undergo a £500,000 refurbishment, paid for by both current owners Greene King as well as drinks firm Big Smoke Brew Co, in April or May.
The venue will have a games room on the first floor, with “cutting edge” electronic darts similar to ‘Flight Club’ in London, and a shuffleboard.
Big Smoke Brew Co – who run a brewery, gin distillery and seven other similar craft bars in the country – is set to run the bar, which will open at 8am and close at midnight Sunday to Wednesdays and will stay open until 12.30am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The plans for the new venue were revealed as current Matchbox licence holder Greene King faced Reading Borough Council’s licensing committee over the nightclub’s future.
Matchbox has become a hotspot for assaults, arrests and road closures in recent years, and has been closed since December 8, after a fight broke out the day before inside the venue and spilled out onto the street.
The licensing hearing was prompted by Thames Valley Police due to the severity of the issues at the venue during the past two years and the managers’ failures to address them.
One of the most concerning incidents involved a man who died outside the club after being punched and hitting his head on the floor.
During the hearing on Thursday, January 30, the council agreed the owners could keep their licence and re-open as a different establishment.
Licensing chairman Deborah Edwards said: “The sub-committee has concluded that it was appropriate and proportionate for the premises licence to remain in place. New conditions will replace old ones.”
She warned them: “Behave.”
Thames Valley Police agreed to a series of new conditions to replace the current ones prior to the meeting – including no events run by external promoters.
This led to the council’s senior licensing officer withdrawing his concerns.
The company had already planned to transform Matchbox into a craft bar prior to the fight on December 7.
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