A CONTROVERSIAL club which was shut down after it was stripped of its licence over complaints about drunken violence, is to reopen under new ownership as a piano bar.
The former Legends Cue and Sports Club in Market Place, Ringwood, was forced to close after it was linked to a number of serious incidents, including a double stabbing elsewhere in the town on New Year’s Day 2011.
Now its place will be taken by the Metro Lounge and Piano Bar, which has undergone a £40,000 transformation to create a venue, complete with a baby grand piano, for people aged over 25.
A temporary events licence from New Forest District Council means the club can open between 11am and 11.30pm, with an extension on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Conditions attached to the licence include having two doormen each night until January 2 and the installation of CCTV.
Police have pledged to make sure the conditions are adhered to.
Ringwood couple Shelly Butcher and Sean Bartlett are running the bar, having taken over from previous owner Nicky Binden.
They are in the process of applying for a permanent licence.
Former flight attendant Ms Butcher said: “I am excited and petrified at the same time. We have worked very hard and fought tooth and nail to secure our licence and to reopen. Now we are almost there.
“It has been difficult to prove we are something very different, but we are almost there.
“We have met all our neighbours and they have come and had a look to see what we are doing here and they are pleased that we are opening something sophisticated.”
It was a holiday in Marrakech that gave the couple the idea.
Ms Butcher said: “We were in a piano bar in Marrakech. We thought something like this in Ringwood would be wonderful.
“We have wonderful lighting and the space is candlelit with large, squashy sofas. There is a metropolitan feel to the space, with New York style wallpaper and an architectural skyline.”
Inspector Simon Tribe of Hampshire police said: “Local police are aware of the issues which previously surrounded this premises and will be ensuring that this forms part of the discussions in relation to possible premises licences.
“Equally, if local residents wish to air their concerns or reservations about the premises, they are able to do so via the New Forest District Council website.
“In the meantime local officers will be paying attention to the Metro Lounge for the duration of the temporary licence to ensure that conditions are adhered to.”