Grey walls, distressed oak floors and a brand new head chef – these are only a few of the changes Princess Pavilion will undertake in the next few weeks.
Mo Gutale has held the title of ‘manager’ for just over a month, but he is determined to take the venue to new heights and the first changes are set to happen from Monday 23rd of April to the 26th.
“The idea is to create a neutral, welcoming environment in the foyer and a clear identity in the bar area,” Gutale told Truthfal, taking a tour around the areas set to receive a make-over. All the paintings have been taken down and the manager has been busy all day putting brand new seats in the theatre.
Gutale has re-located from London to Falmouth for this job and has more then 10 years of hands-on experience in the industry, including as events manager at York Hall, which is rated one of the best boxing venues in the world.
Princess Pavilion was last year sold to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL), more commonly known under the name ‘Better’, securing a 25-year contract with Cornwall Council. However, it is not an easy task Gutale has taken on since during the past few years, the venue has seen itself with £200k annual losses.
Gutale said: “Ensuring that we bring a viable entertainment program that includes the mix of up-and-coming artists and comedians to the theatre will be essential.”
Recently, the percentage of cover- and tribute bands has been high and Gutale would like to see that trend turned around: “When a cover band is set to play a concert but only sells 150 tickets, that’s not viable for the business. Instead, we are going to aim to get a good mix of up-and-coming artists and comedians to the stage.”
Already on the program there are Nick Mulvey (sold out) on May the 20th, comedian Chris Ramsey (few tickets left) on July 7th, comedian Jim Davidson and recently announced Ralph McTell in October.
In the kitchen, Dave Waplington returns once again to the venue as head chef after three years of running his own fish and chips shop, ‘North and South Seafood’, in Helston.
“I was in the kitchen when it was all altered about five years ago with a lottery grant, and now I’m doing it all over again,” Waplington, excited about the new plans, told Truthfal.
Waplington is an award-winning chef having won numerous competitions around the world, including prestigious ScotHot and the Norwegian Seafood Chef of the Year. His speciality is mainly seafood and sweets.
He said: “I’m looking forward to it and I think, because I’ve been running my own fish and chip restaurant for three years, I haven’t really been dabbling with what I really wanted to do. It’s almost given me a whole new lease of life because I can’t wait to get down to the nitty-gritty of creating art on the plate.”
All that will be produced will be sourced locally, with “every conceivable fish you can get in Cornwall” for the specials board and seasonal fish for the main menu.
“The Cornish people like things plain and simple, they don’t like fish to be messed with – just nicely seasoned and not well over the top.”
Although he says the main focus will be on traditional seafood, he will make sure there will be “nice local steak” on the menu for the ones who prefer meat.
Joining him in the kitchen will be two chefs, one Italian and one Cornish, excited about learning and working with a world-champion.
Nick Mulvey’s concert on the 20th of May has already sold out and in an email to Truthfal he said:
“I always love playing in Cornwall, probably because I always love being in Cornwall… The recent project collaboration at the Eden Project with Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja was mega and I also wrote some of the songs for Wake Up Now in a cottage in Godrevy Bay.
“The last show we played at Princess Pavilion was lively! I loved it, and I’m looking forward to this next one very much.”