World Cup Special: Active Arena in Lincoln takes us for a tour – Bar & Kitchen

World Cup Special: Active Arena in Lincoln takes us for a tour

Ex-footballer Dan Hone has put his heart and soul into his venue.

Away from Lincoln’s city centre, the huge Active Arena venue offers an experience that’s part social hub, part busy sports bar and completely communityminded. It’s, above all, a space designed to bring people together: mothers and toddlers, dads and lads, yoga buddies and party goers alike.

“Not many places offer the space we do, with big screens, a beer garden and sports under one roof,” says owner Dan Hone, an ex-Lincoln City defender.

Football pitches upstairs

The sprawling split-level space is a feat of engineering as much as it is a beacon of inclusivity. With its first-floor football pitches suspended above play zones for kids and a sports bar for grown-ups, it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. And it’s a formula Dan’s evidently proud of, and one he’s hoping will be enjoyed by a new audience when the World Cup comes to town – well, to the big screens!

Being different is your calling card. Make the most of it

Because we’re a little out of the way, we had to work harder to build an audience. So that made us really think about what we can off er that the city centre pubs can’t. It’s a good lesson for anyone to ask:

‘What is it that makes you special?’ If it’s not the beer, is it the banter?

Don't hide away. Be the face of your business.

The one thing I always do is make sure I get to know my customers. As people, we’re sociable animals. We like to build relationships. It’s not just about the beer and food. It’s about feeling that you belong somewhere. That’s even more important if a special event is bringing in a fresh crowd.

The cost of living matters. People are feeling it.

We have a £50 offer for two buckets of beers and food. It’s a great way to get people set up for the night and in the party mood. With Christmas just around the corner, making it affordable for people to come out for five, six or seven nights over the tournament is really important.

Make it easy for chefs. Plan ahead

When the World Cup’s on it can be ‘all or nothing’ depending on the schedule, and it’s hard to staff up. So if you’ve a party booked in don’t cut the menu down, just send it on ahead and get people to choose their meals before they come. Less prep time, less waste, more happy customers sampling what you do best.

Make it easy for your staff. Try tabs.

If you know and trust your customers, think about having a member of staff doing table service all night, with a tab settled at the end. Then you can have your bar staff focused on making great cocktails instead of dealing with a scrum at the bar, which will only frustrate the people waiting.

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