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Bardello Health and Fitness
Bardello Health and Fitness
Bardello Health and Fitness
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36 Monkspath Business Park,
B90 4NZ

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Opening Times:

06:00 - 21:50

06:00 - 21:50

06:00 - 21:50

06:00 - 21:50

06:00 - 21:50

07:30 - 19:50

07:30 - 17:50

Please see Timetable for bank holiday opening times







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Bardello: A Pictorial History

I have been asked on numerous occasions to tell the story of Bardello: was it all planned or did it all happen by chance? In truth, it has been a combination of innovative ideas (both good and bad) hard work and some very good luck.

I have also chosen to tell this story in the first person as, although the story owes much to others, it is a personal journey of ups and downs. Many of you have been on this incredible journey with me, customers, staff, family and friends - it's your story as well.

I have also included some lessons that I have learned along the way. They are featured in the white boxes. If you think that you will ever be interested in starting your own business, some of these may come in handy. I won't be able to tell you how to make your business a success, but I hope I can help you steer clear of some of the common pitfalls. On the other hand, if you think that these pearls of wisdom are impertinent or simply wrong, then please ignore them.

Old Colonial

The picture from the Old Colonial Sale Brochure front cover from 2009. A curry, a pint and a good seeing to in the car park, all for £4.99!

As 2008 progressed, I realized that I was getting bored with running the Tamworth-based credit card processing company, UPG plc, that my brother-in-law and I had started from scratch almost a decade before. I was on the lookout for new opportunities in other fields. I was also worried that UPG was too reliant upon a relatively small number of large customers - two of which had recently issued profit warnings.

In addition, I was getting frustrated as it was proving incredibly difficult to bring new customers on board despite UPG having one of the most flexible and cost-effective (yes, cheap if you will) offerings as UPG sold only to large retailers and card processing resellers. The best way forward for UPG was to merge with two of its largest resellers giving UPG direct access to systems designed to handle the Internet and mail order transactions for thousands of small and medium-sized businesses. I didn't want to be running this merged entity, however - time to move on.

A large number of customers paying a small, regular amount generally means business stability e.g. the current Bardello formula. A few large customers paying a relatively large amount signals potential future business problems e.g. UPG plc.

I now fancied being in the dance and entertainment industry - who wouldn't!

As a competitive dancing couple, my then wife, Venda, and I used to pass a Solihull pub once a week on the way to one of our regular practice venues and I always thought that this pub, The Old Colonial, being large and square, looked like it could be a great venue for dancing, eating and drinking.

Old Colonial Swing Sign

The old duffer himself! The Old Colonial Swing Sign Summer 2009. His bleary-eyed gaze overlooked some very unsavoury activities.

I heard through the grapevine that it was up for sale, contacted the agent and by the beginning of 2009 had bought it (as you do! - I had to effectively sell some of my holding in UPG plc to do so) and informed my colleagues that I would be stepping down from the helm of UPG plc as soon as refurbishment had been completed - scheduled for late summer 2009.

Old Colonial Interior

The Old Colonial pub interior as it was at Christmas 2008. Lovely!

Back in the 1990's; around the time when Venda and I started dancing together and before I became involved in card processing, I had an idea! The idea was a dedicated venue for dance, food and drink. Indeed, I approached several West London investment organisations for help and advice and conducted much research asking hundreds of people;

"What do you think to a music, dance, restaurant, bar venue? Would you come?"

"Yes", an emphatic "Yes!" was nearly always the answer.

A lesson that I wish I had learned earlier: Don't overly rely on research, it's a rough guide, nothing more - and don't rely on your best friend's auntie. Use a cold-light-of-day thought processes, and go back to 'Jack and Jill'. Then compare what you find with your instincts.

Here's what I should have reasoned: Dancing and eating don't work in this day and age - very few men dance and nobody wants to have an intimate meal with someone shouting, "five, six, seven and mambo!" in your ear. I wish someone had shaken some sense into me back then.

Little available finance and lack of suitable premises prevent me back in 1998. But now, things were very different, everything was moving forward for a 19 September 2009 opening.

Old Colonial Refurbishment

The Old Colonial pub interior during refurbishment June 2009. Two huge steel joists, seen here, were needed to support the roof after the removal of four pillars. Pillars + Dancing = Bloody Nose.

Yes, there were issues with the building and with the builders - not least of which the building firm went bust just before the project was completed - don’t they all!

We had issues getting staff, when the advert went out, I expected queues right around the corner. As it turned out, we only just about managed to fill the posts with hours to spare.

Old Colonial Refurbishment

The Old Colonial pub exterior during refurbishment June 2009. We gave it a Mediterranean, white-washed, anti-vandal, rugged look. But it was still daubed with "You bastards have taken away our pub". Not a good omen.

Old Colonial Refurbishment

A publicity interior montage created a couple of weeks prior to opening Summer 2009. I was assured that bulbs used in the bar and main area light fittings could be purchased from anywhere, like Homebase or B&Q. They turned out to be the singularly most difficult lamp to get hold of, ever!

Our opening night went ahead as scheduled. Alarm bells starting ringing even then, again, we should have had queues around the corner for the walk-in tickets that we had available, but we had a mere trickle.

Bardello Opening Night

Bardello opening night - Saturday 19 September 2009 - guests just starting to arrive. Even then I had a worrying feeling in my colon and it wasn't yesterday's curry.

A free of charge night of fabulous tapas food, great salsa instruction, entertainment from one of the UK's leading Brazilian Samba troupes and the opportunity to dance in what surely was the best Latin dance venue in the Midlands. What’s wrong?

Bardello Opening Night

Bardello opening night - Venda and I

Bardello Opening Night

Bardello opening night - Guests enjoying themselves! I think?

Bardello Opening Night

Bardello opening night - The samba dancers from Element Dance. Yes, one of them was pregnant, and a goodly few months gone at that. All very surreal.

Bardello History Next

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