Who I am and what I'm doing:
Hello, I'm Ross, how are you? Thanks for checking out the Crowdfunder page for The Cat's Pyjamas! Please allow me to tell you a little bit about myself. First off this is me, or at least a photograph of me within the last 18 months - I detest getting my photo taken...my hair isn't as long and my beard has even more white in it.
Most people who are looking at this will know me, some of you may recognise may, to other, I could be anybody! I daresay many of you will know my wonderful wife Wendy. We live with Wendy's two teenagers Jo (17) and Beth (nearly 14) and our two cats, Rocco and Jasper (both 18). I also have a daughter, Molly (nearly 16 - eek!) who lives with her mum in Milton Keynes but who stays with us regularly.
I am Dunbar born & bred (41.5 years!!! How did that happen?) and I love living here, especially since our move to a new development nearly 2 years ago where, alongside having stunning views, we have made great friends with those who live beside us.
I've spent the last 20 years or so creating exceptional experiences and world class hospitality for some of the most recognisable and prestigious brands in the world, across many industries including sport I've even curated exclusive hospitality experiences for VIPs and celebrities in Scotland and overseas. I've also been blessed to travel and work across the globe, enjoying great times in the finest venues and atmospheres. But I am also passionate about my home town and I'm desperate to help it continue to blossom by bringing my experiences, expertise and contacts to the town and to deliver a business which both adds value to the town and contributes to its development.
Dunbar is a beautiful town on the east coast of Scotland, some 30 miles outside of Edinburgh, and it's generally considered the sunniest place in Scotland. It's come on leaps and bounds in the last 20 years and has become quite the destination for families commuting into the city, with beaches, golf, family parks and water-sports to enjoy and cultural events and festivities abundant. It's an inclusive and welcoming place but it has always lacked the kind of sophisticated watering-hole that those who work in the city - perhaps moved out from it - are used to. Somewhere stylish with a great atmosphere where people can come together and tell stories, share experiences, laugh and create memories in a really cool, sophisticated place with a great vibe. A more mature environment for a grown-up evening and a venue which reflects our changing community. Dunbar doesn't just deserve one, it needs one, as does East Lothian, if its going to tap into its potential to be the 'Riviera of Scotland.'
The aim of The Cat's Pyjamas Speakeasy is to both remedy that problem and to contribute to the future prosperity of our lovely wee town and her people.
The vision for The Cat's Pyjamas Speakeasy
I will occasionally say 'we' instead of 'I' because there will be other lovely people helping getting The Cat's Pyjamas Speakeasy open and operating.
In the tradition of a proper prohibition-era speakeasy The Cat's Pyjamas will be hidden from plain sight, obscured by a false shop/office front which will be presented to look like a typical 1920s American business - we've decided on an Archaeologist's office called H. Jones & Son, which is inspired by those prohibition era icons Henry Jones and Henry Jones Jr - or Indiana as he prefers to be known!
We have the perfect venue in a great area of the town - near to other establishments our target audience would frequent for dinner and drinks but offering a totally different option. The Cat's Pyjamas can be an alternative to them or the perfect before or after dinner destination. Crucially, it's not on the High Street - home to great but more traditional pubs - which is typically avoided by our target audience . It's a totally unexpected venue, which is exactly what a Speakeasy should be - with a capacity of around 50 seated plus plenty of room for standing - and never in a million years looks like a bar from the outside. Spread over two floors it has 4 unique spaces to create perfect hubs for socialising - the benefit of it's previous office-based setup - plus space to stand and mingle in the hallways. It has two single occupant toilets, one on each floor and they are beautifully done.
The interior decor will be stylish and sophisticated to create that sense of real surprise as to the property's true purpose but it will have a slight sense of shabby chic luxury to drive home the clandestine and slightly cobbled together nature of a prohibition-era Speakeasy - think Georgian wood pannels, exposed brick work, luxurious dark wallpapers, cocktail sofas, gold/brass and wood fittings, lush green plants, ceiling fans with some archaeological artefacts to tie in with the false-front indentity. We aim to use reclaimed, recycled and second-hand materials and furniture as much as possible and each space will have it's own personality. You'll have to wait and see exactly what it will look like, but these images will give the kind of feel we're going for:
The menu will be just as sophisticated. Drinks and snacks only, with craft beers, real ales, single malt, gin, champagne, prosecco,cclassic cocktails martinis and more. Where possible drinks and snacks will be sourced from local and artisan producers.
The vibe is just as important. The Cat's Pyjamas will be a cool destination for a classy libation and a bit of 'chinning' with friends. The decor and the drinks have a crucial role to play in achieving that but equally as vital are the sounds....a mix of cool and contemporary hip-hop, jazz, funk and hip-hop - not too loud, just a cool soundtrack to the conversations you'll be having. And we'll also look to have an old piano should anyone fancy a proper knees-up singalong!
Initial plans are to open only on Friday evening and Saturday evening and a Sunday afternoon for a Jazzy Sunday. This is to maintain that sense of scarcity, exclusivity and secrecy that Speakeasy's were all about in 1920s America. But Monday to Thursday The Cat's Pyjamas will be available for interesting events, such as Whisky Sampling or Mixology Masterclasses, as well as exclusive use hire and community events. We will have occasional events at the weekend and would be delighted to help deliver the town's festivities, particularly the Dunbar Traditional Music Festival.
Ultimately what I want to create is a really cool locations where guys like you and I can come hang out and enjoy great conversation and beverages in a brilliant atmosphere, and to create a sort of community of our own where, to steal from Cheers, everybody knows your name.
To be clear - I/we will NOT be telling anybody where The Cat's Pyjamas is located until just before opening, and then only to those we have engaged with. Why? Because it's a Speakeasy, which were literally designed to be secretive so that 'the Feds' didn't get wind of the illicit trade and consumption of illegally smuggled alcohol, bathtub gin and bootleg booze, hence the term 'Speakeasy' which is literally derived from 'speak easy', i.e. ' be careful who you tell'.
Once we are in the property we will post some images, internal only, so as not to give away anything!
The marketing strategy
We'll also have a really cool marketing strategy. We'll have an online and social presence for both The Cat's Pyjamas and H. Jones & Son. Everything regarding The Cat's Pyjamas will be created to make it look cool and 'must visit', without telling anyone where it is - a Speakeasy should be secret! - whilst the H. Jones & Son social media will be posts of archaeological imagery with seemingly random drinks in the foreground. When diving deeper into the H. Jones & Son website, visitors will stumble upon the website for The Cat's Pyjamas, which will appear as if by magic. The front door will have an entry code system, to keep that sense of Speakeasy secrecy and exclusivity. To find out where The Cat's Pyjamas is and to get that code those who wish to visit The Cat's Pyjamas must 'like' our Facebook Page or 'follow' our Instagram profile, and send us a Direct Message regarding paying us a visit in order to be given the code. This code will be changed weekly and communicated via Messenger, WhatsApp Messenger and/or Text. This helps us to both create a database of clients in order to engage with them and communicate events or special offers and also ensure that known trouble-makers are kept out! Once a customer, you'll be able to make a reservation online.
Marketing will be almost exclusively done via Facebook and Instagram, maybe Twitter. The look and feel of the venue plus the always inviting visuals of cocktails and people having fun will naturally yield stunning photos and videos. The Cat's Pyjamas will be very Instagrammable. We'll use stories and live streams of events to get instant engagement and our language will be very much in line with that of those who took part in 1920s America illicit activities.
But beyond that I've nearly 2 decades of experience in and around marketing and have a huge network! I know almost everyone in the town - and I believe most of them trust me to put on a good time - and have a massive wider network, with more than 10,000 LinkedIn connections and a little black book of famous friends who I'll lean on.
Community is vitally important to us. The Cat's Pyjamas isn't just for the community, it will, hopefully, become a community in its own right - a place for likeminded people to enjoy and develop relationships, and for little clubs to form - like whisky societies or gin clubs. And in that spirit of community we want to make sure we're doing our bit to continue Dunbar's evolution and development. To that end 20% of our profits will be given to Dunbar community projects every year AND the venue will be available for community events, such as the Traditional Music Festival or the Literary Festival, at no charge. subject to availability.
Why I need your help
I'm going to self-fund as much of the investment in The Cat's Pyjamas Speakeasy as possible however it's going to need a bit of help, though I'll keep that to a minimum. There's a bit of work needed to get it where it needs to be to look the part but fortunately it's nothing massive however this property is more than twice the size of the one initially earmarked and so needs a bit more spent on it. There's really only furnishing and decor to take care of, the fixtures and fittings and, of course, the bar to install! Where possible we'll use reclaimed or recycled materials and second-hand furniture and, again where possible, we'll use local and/or artisan craftsmen/tradesmen to create bespoke furniture with the reclaimed and recycled materials. And of course we'll need to stock up on the all-important consumables. That was all in the plan already, but with this better but bigger venue I need to raise extra cash from somewhere and whilst I initially thought about traditional methods, i.e. going to the bank, I actually was drawn to Crowdfunder because I really want to engage with you guys and for you to feel part of something special in Dunbar and I believe that a Crowdfunder campaign allows exactly that, an opportunity for you to feel engaged and actually feel a part of creating and delivering something that the town will benefit from for years to come.
And then when I thought about the Crowdfunder model - pledge and reward - I realised that this is really beneficial to you guys because you'll get more for you money. You see, you're going to be coming in here for a drink once we're open anyway so if there was a way to get more drinks for your money, you'd be daft to turn it down, wouldn't you? Picture this, you come into The Cat's Pyjamas and there's 2 of you wanting cocktails, and you're making a bit of a night of it and you're probably going to have 6 cocktails each. I come to you and say 'ok, great, I'll give you those 6 for the price of 4' and you respond 'no that's ok, we'll just pay for all 6'. It's not going to happen is it? You'd be aff yer heid! So indulge me, please, why I explain how you can get more bang for your buck.
Pledging is like ordering and paying for your drinks in advance. You're going to get your drinks when the dude comes back in 10 minutes. That's what pledging is like, it just takes longer than 10 minutes to get your drinks! And because of the way we've crafted the rewards, it's like the dude comes back with an extra drink on the house! So we've established you'll have to wait more than 10 minutes, you'll get your drinks at The Cat's Pyjamas once we open, but when you get them you're getting more for your pledge than you would if you you wait 'til we're open and order them then, when you're NOT going to get your free extra drink (it's not all extra drinks so please don't take that literally - sometimes it's a free round, or a free drink a month and other amazing benefits)
I would be enormously grateful for your support in this project and rest assured you will be looked after with some superb rewards, each one worth more than the value of your pledge! (see below). This will obviously suit people in the Dunbar/East Lothian area as they are primed to benefit the most but we'll welcome help from anywhere and will look forward to rewarding you appropriately.
The hope is to be open for business within 2-3 months, certainly prior to Christmas. The work required on the property should be comfortably complete within that timescale as the slightly shabby chic nature of it means it doesn't need to be pristine - we're not re-creating The American Bar at Gleneagles after all! What will ultimately influence when we open is the licensing process, which is already underway and I have already held very positive discussions with the council licensing officer and Police Divisional Licensing Officer.
We've put together a generous suite of rewards in gratitude for your help, making sure that you are properly looked after whatever the level of your support. There's a reward for everyone, with the value of each reward being more than the amount of your pledge and, of course, the more you pledge the more awesome and valuable the reward.
The really great thing about our rewards is that you're basically paying for your drinks/event in advance and when you come in to redeem them you'll get more than the value of your pledge. Like ordering two drinks and we bring you 3l
I/we thank you enormously for your help, support and encouragement and look forward to welcoming you to The Cat's Pyjamas very soon.
With warmest wishes,
Thank you soooooo much for your pledges to date over the last week or so, your support means the world. We're getting there slowly but surely.
In other news, we got the keys to the house of the jazz and the funk on Friday!!!!! It was the best experience to show the premised to my wife, step-daughter, mum and dad, none of whom has seen even a photo of it! I only wish my daughter could have seen it, but she's up from Milton Keynes soon and I cannot wait to show her.
We're going through the licensing stage now. East Lothian Council love the idea and see no reason why they wouldn't grant a licence, save for there being significant objections. The good news on that front is that I've already spoken with most of the neighbours and they all love it and expect to be regulars. I've incentivised them to keep the location a secret!
The only photos I can share with you right now are very basic....we're inheriting pretty much a white space. I also have to be careful to make sure any photos don't give the location away, so below are some pretty boring photos of the space which at least show you this is real! The transformation, however, from this to the end product will be FAR from boring!
The Response/Social Media
Since we announced The Cat's Pyjamas a little over a week ago the reaction has been incredible! Our social media engagement has been outstanding and, I am assured by townsfolk that The Cat's Pyjamas is indeed the talk o' the toon, to steal a line from the world of football. I cannot thank everyone enough for their interactions and their response. I am truly humbled. I've even had so many people trying to guess where The Cat's Pyjamas will be located that I've started a commpetition, where the winner will get an invitation for 2 to the invitation only, money can't buy Launch Party and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot Brut. See Facebook for details if you fancy entering. I assume that you are following our social media activity give that you are hear, because this campaign has only really been promoted on social media, however if not please follow us on Facebook @thecatspyjamasdunbar and Instagram @the_cats_pyjamas_dunbar to keep up to speed with what's happening.
We've also announced two REALLY COOL regular events!
Jazzy Sunday Afternoon
The first is Jazzy Sunday Afternoon (yes, that's a play on Lazy Sunday by the Small Faces, which includes the lyric "Lazy Sunday Afternoon"), which is what every Sunday will be, from 12 noon til 10pm. A day of purely jazz to chill to with a cocktail or a single malt. We'll have frequent live jazz performances and we're hoping to have the ability for you to enjoy some delicious food, if we can tie down a rather good and very popular mobile catering business to park up at our front door!
The Thursday Night Delight
This is a belter. Every Thursday our Hollywood Lounge will be transformed into a snug, intimate and luxurious cinema for up to 10 people (we could increase the number but we want to ensure you get the best view without craning your neck or doing damage to your eyes by being too close to the screen). Our audience will enjoy classic and iconic movies in the comfort of luxurious bijou sofas and armchairs, each with their own table upon which they can lay their cocktails and artisan snacks. Yes, the audience will enjoy a cocktail (or other beverage) and delicious snack included in their ticket price. They will also enjoy the opportunity to relax in our Cocktail Bar pre and post showing AND, best of all, a traditional midway interval and comfort break. As we are hoping to be up and running in time for the festive season, what better way to kickstart The Thursday Night Delight than with classic Christmas movies?! That's the goal.
That's all for now, folks. Any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch here or via Facebook/Instagram.