Seafront nightclub could close for good, owner says

The owner of the Empire Lounge in Great Yarmouth says he needs some financial support if he is to su

The owner of the Empire Lounge in Great Yarmouth says he needs some financial support if he is to survive the pandemic and says it is unfair his business had fallen through the Covid cracks meaning he has missed out on help Picture: Empire Lounge - Credit: Archant

A nightclub owner who has told of his heartbreak and frustration after clubbing stopped due to Covid-19 fears the business will not survive beyond January.

The owner of the Empire Lounge on Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile says he needs the kind of financial s

The owner of the Empire Lounge on Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile says he needs the kind of financial support similar venues have been able to access while his business has fallen through the Covid cracks Picture: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

Mario George built a strong following at The Empire Lounge in Great Yarmouth - the last club left on the seaside strip, and an anchor attraction.

But social distancing, the 10pm curfew, and a ban on dancing have made it impossible to trade.

He has been shut for eight months, and has had to lay off trusted staff - but has received only £5,000 in government support.

“I can keep going until January,” he said.


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He said he was “hitting his head against a brick wall” trying to lever some help to ensure he was still there when the clubs reopened.

To keep ticking over costs at least £3,000 a month in rent and bills.

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Mr George said the club was a big draw for the seafront and was well established.

Last year he invested heavily in a new sound system and he felt it was unfair that he had not received the financial support that other venues had because he was in a shared building.

He said he had been able to prove to Great Yarmouth Borough Council officers, who are awarding the grants, that he had paid £8,000 a year in business rates, making him eligible for the £25,000 handout.

He said: “The money would have made a massive difference. In an ideal world I want to reopen and get back to business as normal.

“I want some support so that when Covid is over we can do that.

“We shut when we were told to shut. We have done everything we have been told. There are only two nightclubs left. Do they want us to close?”

He added: “It makes me feel heartbroken being shut and The Empire just sitting there as I have invested a lot of time, money and effort into making a successful business.”

He added it was upsetting having to make good people redundant.

On a pre-Covid Saturday night he was full to capacity, with some 400 people enjoying the party in the first-floor venue, which includes an outdoor terrace overlooking the sea.

The venue is in the landmark Tower Complex on the Golden Mile, once home to Tiffany’s and Caesars Bar - both of which have been consigned to history.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has been approached for a comment.

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