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Customers speak out over Coventry bar 'closure'.

Byline: KATY HALLAM Chief Reporter

CUSTOMERS of a Coventry gay bar which appears to have closed just weeks after opening say they have been left out of pocket after not having their deposits returned.

The Kiki Lounge & Loft - formerly Earlsdon Cottage and The Watchmakers - only opened as a new cabaret and mixed LGBT/ heterosexual venue in Warwick Street in Earlsdon at the end of March.

But by the middle of May it was up for sale online for PS115,000.

Customers now say the venue's owners won't reply to their requests to return deposits for VIP booths and drinks.

Angry comments have been left on the bar's Facebook page, asking for money to be refunded.

The Telegraph has contacted managing director and Kiki Lounge licensee Sarah Carvell for a comment, but so far the business has not responded.

Ellen Jenks said she had lost out on PS35 after booking a booth and bottomless martinis for two hours.

She said she would continue to chase the money, adding: "I have been told a few times I would get the money but as of yet still nothing."

Another customer said the venue had "ignored all contact" when she requested the PS50 deposit her group of 10 friends had paid.

She said: "We were told nothing about the closure, I found out when my partner told me.

"I made contact to find out if it was true they had closed and to refund us all and they said they would then never did. They ignored all contact made.

"Absolutely disgusting. If you close down you contact everyone and you give them their money back."

Customers say that they have also tried to contact the business through its Facebook page to confirm it is open.

In May, Michelle Hall wrote: "Very disappointed ...came over to visit kiki lounge on Friday night around 10pm only to find the place closed and a to let sign on the gate ....the website said it was open ...lots of people were doing the same ....has it closed down ? Why advertise saying it's open when clearly it's not ..."

The bar's account responded saying: "Hi Michael. Apologies for the confusion but the for sale/to let board is for the business next door, not us. No we have not closed down. Hope to see you soon."

Managing director of Cottage Events Centre Sarah Carvell contacted CoventryLive in September after we ran a story in May confirming the gay bar was up for sale online. She then said she was re-opening the premises but did not get back in touch after requests from CoventRYLIVE for more information. The venue appeared to be closed when the Telegraph visited this week.

The bar's Twitter account last posted on May 9. The last post on the bar's Facebook page was on September 9, advertising for an event sales executive for Cottage Events Centre.

The post said the bar was looking for a part-time "exceptional sales manager for a newly opening event centre in Coventry".

The building was originally built as a watchmaker's cottage in 1855.

It became the Earlsdon Cottage pub and underwent a major PS1 million refurbishment in 2006.

After a further PS200,000 revamp in 2016 it changed its name to the Watchmakers.

The new name was a nod to Earlsdon's past as the centre of the city's once thriving watchmaking industry.

It only changed to the Kiki Lounge & Loft on March 30, 2018 after being sold off the year before.

The lease for the pub was auctioned off by Loveitts Auctioneers on June 6, 2017 and sold to a bidder described as 'in the trade' for an undisclosed sum.

At that time, the 14-year lease was expected to fetch between PS150,000 and PS200,000.

The Watchmakers pub featured on Channel 5's Can't Pay We'll Take It Away programme in September 2017.

High Court enforcement officers Matt Highway and Gary Ball were attempting to obtain PS10,765.86 in unpaid money.

As they were making their way to the pub, a voiceover on the programme said: "City Leisure Coventry Limited, which owns a local pub, owes money to a contractor that carried out refurbishment but wasn't paid the full amount.

"The contractor took the company to court and won, and now payment must be made in full today."

After a heated exchange with Steven Carvell, who ran the pub at the time, a compromise was agreed and Mr Carvell was allowed to pay PS3,000 that day, PS2,000 the following Monday after the pub had a weekend of trading, PS2,800 the week after and PS2,800 the week after that.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 27, 2018
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