A new bar and social club is set to open in Ashford tonight and even features self-pour beer booths.
Matches Sports Bar, Grill & Social has moved into an empty unit at the Elwick Place leisure complex.
Originally slated to open on Monday but pushed back because of decoration delays, the bar will be opening its doors for the first time at 5pm.
Tables are available for booking, while some have also been reserved to allow for walk-ins each night.
Manager Charlie Pickersgill said that the team were “really excited” to welcome customers in.
“We will obviously be operating at a limited capacity while restrictions are still in place,” he said, “but when we get standing space we will be able to get about 250 people in at capacity”.
The team are especially looking ahead to the Euros, which Mr Pickersgill says has already seen a huge amount of interest.
He said: “When we set up our website, the tables for the England vs Scotland game sold out in about two minutes.
“I think the same is true now of our first game on Sunday and one other, but we make sure to reserve a few tables to allow for walk-ins; people will obviously find it a lot easier to walk in, grab a drink and watch the game when restrictions are lifted.”
The bar will feature “an abundance of Ultra-HD screens”, according to founder Jon Shephard, showing not just football but “whatever sports you’re into”.
However, despite being a sports bar, the main focus of the venture will be on creating a fun place to go out with friends and share conversation.
Mr Pickersgill said: “We’re really keen to emphasise that we’re not just a sports bar. We wouldn’t want to limit ourselves in that way, it’s much more than that.
“We’ve got food and drink, shuffleboard, darts, karaoke, the whole works; we want it to be a place where you can come with your mates no matter who you are or what you enjoy”.
One particulary exciting addition to the bar will be self-pour booths, which will be unique to the area.
The booths are designed to allow conversation to flow without having to leave to go to the bar.
“You will need to go to the bar when you come in to show ID,” Mr Pickersgill explained, “but then you can sit in the booth and pour yourself a pint of one of two beers.
“The best thing as well is that it only charges you for how much you pour – as opposed to a default half pint or pint, for example, if you poured yourself 200ml of beer, that’s how much you would pay for.”
Founder Jon Shephard said: “If there’s two important things we’ve all learnt recently is that we should not take seeing friends and family for granted, as well as to support local businesses.
“Matches has been born out of the pandemic and as a local resident, I wanted to create a unique, friendly and social space for everyone to come and enjoy, relax and most importantly, have fun whether you’re into sports or not.
“I also want to build up a real connection with the sporting community of Ashford, being a hub where clubs and societies can meet up for chats about team tactics, after-training wind-downs and of course, those all-important team socials.”
The bar will be joining the likes of The Gastronomist, which will also be opening in Elwick Place once lockdown is eased.
Alongside that will be Unita 4, which is being billed as a family-friendly Italian restaurant.
And earlier this month, Macknade expanded into the former Ashford International Model Railway Education Centre unit.
Matches is looking to hire an experienced bar and kitchen manager, with applicants encouraged to email [email protected]
For more information on the business, click here.
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