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What a swell party...

Everyman Bistro celebrates its big four-0

Published on September 30th 2010.

What a swell party...

THERE won't be a 50th. 

The Everyman Bistro threw a massive party on Sunday to celebrate 40 years in the business.

The “cafe with a theatre attached”, as once described by The Times, organised a whole day of activities for young and old, with well known faces from its low key, yet illustrious, history either there performing, drinking or both.

That's a big demographic. There aren't many places where you will see the CEO of a big organisation rubbing shoulders at the food counter with a muso of scurrilous repute.

The Lawnmower's Alan Peters, Dave Bateman and the Dead Good Poets - and members of staff from right down the years made appearances on both sides of the bar. People brought in their snaps of Bistro moments gone by, and they hung on the walls alongside letters and well wishes from the likes of actress Alison Steadman and theatre director Terry Hands, there in spirit. "Thank you for being you," his email read.

Even the old Bistro clock showed up and the dancing, to DJ Stormin' Norman's ever popular record collection, continued until it struck midnight sharp. At that point we were all, as is the custom, thrown out on our ear - making for a very gentle day in many Liverpool workplaces today.

As most, but by no means all, people know, the plan is that the Bistro will be demolished next year as a rebuild of the theatre gets under way.

The late artist Sam Walsh's famous painting depicting the cellar and its carousing customers, which has hung in the middle room for two of those decades, will maybe, one day, stand as some sort of Monet or Toulouse-Lautrec-style time stamp - defining a moment in Liverpool's cultural and social history.

Far-fetched? Not necessarily: One well-known observer wondered last night: “Is this going to be the Cavern all over again?” referring to the impending loss of the Everyman Bistro and how important it might one day be regarded – when it's not there.

Former Everyman actor Roger Phillips gamely mastered the ceremonies when it came to cutting the birthday cake before hundreds of punters sang Happy Birthday and cheered rousingly as the owners Dave Scott, Tim Byrne and the tireless man at the helm, Paddy Byrne, blew out the candles.

We wonder did he make a wish.

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousSeptember 27th 2010.

What a lovely letter from Terry Hands, who was the first artistic director at the Everyman all those years ago - and I have to say what a touching little article. Fair brought a tear to this eye!

Professor ChucklebuttySeptember 27th 2010.

The Everyman !! Of course, I should have realised. Five hours I waited outside the Unity. Blimey, so if it's not the Unity they are going to demolish...I'd better get back up there with my handcart and return the lead and slates from the roof. Then again these open air productions are all the rage. I very much enjoyed "A midsummer nights punch-up" in Sefton Park. Nevertheless, a bit of important cultural history, about to be lost forever. A place where you could take those first steps out into the scary world, without feeling scared. It's a bit sad innit.

Mike NearySeptember 28th 2010.

Great to see Brian Farrell, John Louis and Dave Dover playing superbly earlier in the day. They built their set around stuff that had been played there the night the place opened and in the first years of Hope Hall which of course sounded brand new. Along with Alan Peters, they took the 3rd room crowd through some of the Sunday night highlights down the years including the night Alexis Corner played the 3rd room with Elton John and Rod Stewart as support, John Sessions and Mike Myers doing stand up years later... real high point of the day.

Squeeze O'LemonSeptember 28th 2010.

I remember being chatted up by John Sessions in the Everyman Bistro. Another Ken Campbell discovery, as was Graham Fellows/Jilted John - John Shuttleworth to be. The Bistro is so redolent with famous names that they don't even begin to scratch the surface. As Terry Hands says it's the most well known theatre eatery in Britain, and you don't have to be a theatrical person to enjoy the vibe. Ironic that Paddy, Dave and Tim saved the theatre at a time when it would have shut forever. Very sad, but I suppose nothing ever lasts forever, as the Bunnymen might say (I saw them in the Third Room too!)

observerSeptember 28th 2010.

Crazy to demolish this place. Be a long time regretting it

AnonymousSeptember 28th 2010.

There are other places that have gone down like The Foundry in London with howls of protest and big facebook campaigns. But at least they did something about it. Can't think why the Bistro and its customers and fans don't put up more of a fight on this. Why does a new theatre above mean it has to go? Is it really the end?

NHPSeptember 28th 2010.

You all do know that the new Everyman will have a basement bistro don't you?

Gambo GabrinusSeptember 29th 2010.

There has been a complete change in the clientele of the Everyman since the smoking ban.
The old loyal regulars were driven out elsewhere almost overnight, and the lily-livered nincompoops who have replaced them aren't exactly fighting material.

Old TimerSeptember 29th 2010.

It used to be the home of bohemia, but now it is the regular haunt of the mincing middle classes, drinking water and quibbling over the three-bean salad.

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2010.

Yes, and Cavern Walks has a pretend Cavern, NHP. It's the fibre that's the thing. But never mind.

NHPSeptember 29th 2010.

I do understand the concerns; I know the atmosphere seeps out of the brickwork. But the theatre will rot if this work isn't carried out and I can't see how that would help the bistro. The three elements of the Everyman that are at the heart of the redevelopment are the thrust stage, the red Everyman sign, and the bistro. That gives me hope that the results will be good. Though I realise that these things can be delicate matters and I may be completely wrong. I guess we'll see.

Old TimerSeptember 29th 2010.

The red neon Everyman sign hardly ever seems to be working properly and it's SO seventies old hat. I preferred the iron-and-glass arcade awning.

NHPSeptember 29th 2010.

Then assuming you've been near the Everyman within living memory, you'll no doubt have put that point of view forward as part of the wide-ranging public consultation that no Everyman regular can have failed to be aware of. Which is precisely where the Liverpool public revealed their key concerns about the stage, the sign and the bistro.

Veronica KnickersSeptember 29th 2010.

NHP, you sound very knowledgeable and corporate on this. TOO corporate for my liking, eh! The old spirit of the Everyman wasn't about corporate!

Old TimerSeptember 29th 2010.

Never heard of it.

NHPSeptember 29th 2010.

'Knowledgeable' - very kind of you to say so Veronica! I am very interested in theatre, that's all. I did used to work in a theatre once upon a time - in another city, about 20 years ago. I assure you though, I have absolutely no connection to the Everyman or Playhouse, apart from the fact that I go to the theatre a lot and I drink bistro beer a lot. I mean no harm, I come in peace!

Veronica KnickersSeptember 29th 2010.


NHPSeptember 30th 2010.

Incidentally, while the photos above are lovely and everything, it's a shame you didn't get one of Alan Dossor who seemed to be having a cracking night and who made a not inconsiderable effort to get there. Great to see him in the bistro.

Andy MeliaOctober 1st 2010.

Where was that gorgeous German-looking girl with the scar on her face who used to be a waitress there in the 80s? Never did have the bottle to talk to her...

80sgirlMarch 13th 2011.

She was there!

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