An iconic downtown building is being transformed into a new nightclub and bar by an interior designer who stars in a popular children’s TV show. Emma Kosh, who appears on CBBC’s The Dengineers, uses her creative flair at the new Lifestyle Bar, which opens in a former opera house and cinema in Guild Street, Burton.
It was announced in November last year that the new bar would open in the building, which opened as an opera house in the mid-1930s and later became the town’s main cinema, Robins. More recently it has operated as a Ritz restaurant and cat cafe.
The new Lifestyle Bar, due to open in June, will host DJs and live music in a modern environment, but will still seek to preserve the old features of the old cinema, reports Staffordshire Live.
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Emma grew up in Barton-under-Needwood and went to John Taylor High School before moving to London around 15 years ago. The 39-year-old has now returned to her hometown to work with her brother and father, Ben and Frank Heathcote, to transform a building that was a special part of her teenage years.
Ben, owner of the Elite nightclub in Burton, said when it came to needing an interior designer, he knew exactly who to call his sister Emma. Now she’s busy getting the club ready for the opening and can’t wait for the reaction to her work on the site from excited clubbers.
Emma said: “It’s a very special project and I couldn’t turn it down because it’s a unique opportunity for Burton and for myself. I remain friends with a lot of people at Burton and we have a WhatsApp group called ‘Burton for Certain’ – I talked to them about this project and all the memories we share of cinema.
“I do a lot of work in London and it was the logistics of doing it from there. However, one thing we learned from Covid is that most things can be done remotely.
“With my brother and dad working there, I know it’s in good hands. Working with my dad and brother is fun – it’s my first time working with them on a job private and not just in my own home.”
Emma says the new bar will have a dark tropical theme throughout, but there are areas that will create a different look and feel as people walk by, making the whole place “Instagrammable” – a big factor in new hotel businesses. It will have an Art Deco design with nods to Robins’ past, including upholstered cinema seats and scissors hidden in the wallpaper, a nod to the owners’ barber shop.
The mother-of-three described it as ‘art deco meets contemporary nightclub’ and added: ‘It’s my first time undertaking a nightclub project so it’s full of first to be back at Burton It’s nice to work with the family because it’s When they work with other trades people, they’re not as flexible, but my dad came to visit and knows design.
“They understand my working style and I understand theirs. I prefer working with them rather than with other traders. They want the best for you and want your name to be protected. What I liked was is that the three of us worked with the guys from the Lifestyle Bar.
“Every idea they were blown away by and supported everything. I had their vision for the club and put my own ideas into it and proposed to them.”
The former cinema is also home to Burton Elite Events Venue and the owners of the two said it was possible to work together. The opening date of the Lifestyle Bar has been announced for June 11, 2022.
The building has been a landmark in Burton since 1935, when it opened as an opera house. Since then it has been best known as the Robins Cinema, before its closure in December 1999 when the new Cineworld opened across the road in Middleway Park. The old cinema building then stood empty until 2014, when the Ritz restaurant opened, offering buffets of food from around the world.
The Dengineers, the CBBC show Emma appears on, sees areas transformed for kids with a team of experts. They explore themes such as dance, espionage and stealth, Bollywood and libraries in their search for the best spaces for children.