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Film and food concept proves a massive hit at marina site

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 20, 2014

  • SUCCESSFUL YEAR . . . at the Red Carpet Cinema are Magdalena Mazur (above) and Kate Silverwood (below, right).

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NOT everyone who enjoys watching a good film likes the multiplex experience so the arrival of the Red Carpet Cinema has plugged a gap in the market that Kate Silverwood always knew was there.

The café-bar and two-screen cinema opened at Barton Marina in August 2013 and 12 months on is living up to Kate's hopes.

She says: "A lot of people who thought they didn't like cinema anymore like it here. We have had a lot of people who haven't been to a cinema for 15 years and who are now coming every week. We do switch people on to it. It's a nice environment in which to enjoy a film."

After 12 months of hard work, worry and the odd hiccup, Kate, Ian and their eight-year-old daughter Sarah are enjoying their new life and have been delighted with the way customers have taken the Red Carpet to their hearts.

"People say the nicest things about us," says kate, although she admits that it wasn't plain sailing at first.

"It's not until you look back that you see how unsettling it was, and for a child to have two parents working such long hours, who aren't eating are who are very stressed. But we have all come through that and she now loves it as much as we do."

Kate says that the first few months were a mixture of highs and lows.

"It's such a beautiful place to be and the staff we have employed have been fabulous," says Kate. "We got in very good people and it's like a family feel – and that's important. A lot of my initial job has been taken over by managers now and they have been so creative. To begin with I was possessive, thinking this is mine, although Ian was allowed to do the banking, but now it feels like I'm a tiny bit player in something that's spread between all of us and we are all pushing in the right direction. So that's been a big plus from the start. So many customers say they enjoy coming here so maybe they pick up on that vibe too.

"On the downside, we were very tired at the start at a time that we needed to be at the peak of our performance.

"That's why people give up in the first few months of a new business. I wish now we hadn't had a massive building project and gone straight from there to 30 people who had never worked together trying to put together a brand new concept."

The general reaction from customers from the start was very positive but the few negative comments during that teething time hurt.

Kate says: "The on-line reviews, especially when people said we were 'terrible' within 24 hours of us opening, and that's on our record forever, was a definite low.

"I think it's cruel and I don't think people understand how difficult it is to read. Even when that's followed up with 15 excellents, that's still so hard to take. It's so public and you feel you are being hung out to dry so quickly."

The equipment also didn't always behave as it should have done.

Kate says: "The projectors not behaving themselves was another low. It makes you very anxious when they don't do what they are supposed to do and you are on the helpline waiting and you are running in and out trying to give customers information. It has an impact on the next film and the next film and you are dealing with a crises the whole day. But we are getting so much better now at knowing how to cope with that."

Although Kate had previously run coffee houses in Burton and Derby it was still a steep learning curve.

She says: "When I first opened a café business we were told that people who survive their first 18 months do OK in the long run. You get more relaxed about it, you know the ups and downs. I had no idea for example that January and February, which were notoriously useless in the coffee world, would be bigger than December here."

Now the Red Carpet has the time to tinker with the finer points of the business with the food especially being an area where Kate believes striving for excellence is paying off.

She says: "We have done so much with the food. We are constantly doing little tweaks here and there to make things even more superb. We are going to be growing all our own fresh herbs for example. We push on and we make changes to the food quality every day. We never leave it alone. Even if the menu looks the same we are improving it. We are making our own pates now.

"If something has tons of ingredients in it we try to get rid of it as soon as possible. We are doing our own dressings on salads. We are trialling more vegetarian dishes. Food is a creative thing and we are always moving with it.We are trying to keep things locally sourced and seasonal. I want it to be a real foodie place to come. Pizza will always be our signature dish but there's lots of things we can do.

"But despite going down that line, we haven't put up our prices."

Live music has also been added to the programme.

"The jazz nights have just been rammed," says Kate. "We had no idea there would be such an appetite for it. Jazz fitted that vintage feel that the brand is all about."

Kate also believes that the Red Carpet has been a boost for Barton Marina as a whole.

She says: "I can only go by what other businesses say but we are told that we are bringing in a wider range of people. We are creating more trade. The gallery is certainly happy that we are here. They say that instead of people coming in the gangway and turning left they are also turning right. It has been a win, win situation."

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