Pitch Your Tent
The Twisted Pepper is dead, long live Wigwam.
16th December 2015
For almost 7 years The Twisted Pepper sat at 54 Middle Abbey Street in Dublin City.
As a venue it was a bit ‘Bovril' - people seemed to really like it or really not, but one thing was for certain, it was one of the best known and most consistent venues in the city, with an outstanding booking policy, an amazing sound system, ran by clubbers for clubbers. When it closed in August it left a distinct hole in the Dublin venue landscape.
We caught up with Eoin Cregan, aka Crego, in the middle of the big rebuild, to ask him what it was like at the helm of The Twisted Pepper and his hopes for the future with the venue re-opened as Wigwam.
We had always dreamed off running our own club where we had full control
So, tell the people who you are and what you do
I'm Eoin Cregan, I’m 34 and have been with Bodytonic since 2003,
I'm the promoter, booker and o.c.d office organiser. I'm in charge of booking and organising all our events, festivals as well as promoting our bars.
What we’re your highlights from running the late, lamented Twisted Pepper
For me, the highlights for me we're watching the club take off. We had always dreamed off running our own club where we had full control. A place where we could pay full attention to details like sound, light and drinks. A place we could encourage new ideas from promoters, staff & punters, take risks, creating a lively, open community.
Some of my favourite events at The Twisted Pepper were Q-Tip's DJ set, Jazzy Jeff, the Modeselektion Party, every David Rodigan show (so much fun) and Macklemore playing his first show not knowing he would go on to perform to 40,000 people in Marlay Park 2 years later.
The Twisted Pepper was also where 3FE coffee began and our Banter talk series which is now in its 120th edition.
Additional photos by David Sexton
So, running a venue is sexy, right? Tell us about the upside
There was no better feeling then seeing the venue in full flight on a packed weekend night. The place would be buzzing with energy from the street inwards. You wouldn't be able to walk two steps without bumping into someone you knew.
As we both know, thats about 5-10% of the time if you’re lucky. Tell us about the downside of running a venue.
It's relentless and stressful work.
There are so many logistics to all the shows we organised, so many moving parts. We could have up to 10-15 shows in one week, all with their own set of demands, questions and needs.
Everything needs to run like clockwork but things break, toilets flood, somebody hurts themselves, and always at the worst possible time. It tough work, you need to love it!
Additional photos by David Sexton
The outpour of emotions online was so touching, I hadn't expected that at all!
The sudden closure of The Twisted Pepper came as a shock. Many people went online to both ask why and tell tales of ‘The Pepper and why it meant so much to them. Why did you close The Twisted Pepper and why do you think it meant so much to people?
We started to talk about the idea of wrapping up The Twisted Pepper after our 5th birthday in 2013.
We felt we'd achieved what we set out to do and maybe it was time to make some changes. However ,things were strong for us at the time so we kept going.
As we opened up other bars and began moving into the food world with festivals like The Big Grill and The Beatyard, as we got older and our interests shifted, we felt it was time to make that change, while the venue was still on a high.
The outpour of emotions online was so touching, I hadn't expected that at all! People were writing eulogies and listing off all their great memories.
That for me confirmed that we had achieved what we set out to do. We created a strong community of like minded music fans. We always pushed what we believed in and this was proof that it worked.
The last three nights were really special, especially the last night, watching Ivan, the head of security, crowd-surfing across the heads of the crowd (not that he had a choice), during the never ending encore. Such an amazing atmosphere.
Wigwam is a more grown up version of The TP. We see it as our natural evolution
After 8 busy weeks behind closed doors, you have just reopened the old Twisted Pepper venue a Wigwam. What’s the thinking here, how is it different to ye olde Twisted Pepper?
I guess you could say Wigwam is a more grown up version of The TP. We see it as our natural evolution.
It's a brigther and airier layout and cosy no matter what time of day. We've opened up the divide between the cafe and the stage room to make it one big room with an open kitchen.
We've taken the roof off The Loft to make it an outdoor area. We have jazzed up the basement with new, brighter colours, drapes and furniture giving in it a more cabaret feel.
We also have a huge, carefully picked range of beers, wines, rums, sodas, teas and coffees. We also have our Brewtonic Drinks shop selling cocktail, home brew and coffee equipment.
We’ve also spent A LOT of time with our new chef pedro coming up with a food menu we’re quite proud of.
Vice Coffee remain and have expanded their range. This includes stocking the addictive Dublin Doughnut Company delights. The Boxcutter Barbershop has had a full make over and operating late night Thurs & Friday cuts.
The basement still hosts two club nights. The Sim Simma crew on Fridays who throw an amazing carnivalesque party of reggae, dancehall and world sounds, and our new night Motel on Saturdays which is our residents playing fun times disco and funk.
This is our homage to great drinks, food, music and atmosphere. Our aim is to keep it fun and relaxed (you can easily disappear up your own hole with this stuff...maybe we have?!).
It's been his dream to get his own kitchen going and now he has it!
Who is the team behind all this?
The team behind Wigwam is myself on concepts, promo & operations. Rachel Fingleton does all our design.
Phoebe Fairbairn is on bar and food operations with her wealth of experience in the drink world. She has managed the Bernard Shaw, La Floridita, The Dylan Hotel bar, Brasserie 66 as well as setting up our own MVP.
Pedro Feraz is our Brazilian head chef. He has trained in Italian trattorias, a 3 star Michelen restaurant and since moving to Ireland he has worked in the Dylan, the Exchequer and set up our Spudbox outlet in MVP. It's been his dream to get his own kitchen going and now he has it!
Barry Gargan is our head bar tender, manager and cocktail wizard. He has created every cocktail on the menu himself and alongside Phoebe handpicked all our wines, 100 beers and 100 rums!
It’s going to take a while for all this to settle down no doubt. Where do you see Wigwam in 12 months?
In a years time I would hope that every element of Wigwam is in full flow.
At The Twisted Pepper, every day was different depending on what was on but Wigwam needs to be the same great thing day in, day out, across the board from the food & drink to the vibe and service.
We want it to be a great north side destination for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, dancing and discovery!
We will start doing more events like our tipple town drinks festival, talks with international speakers from the food/drink world, themed dinner nights, tastings, workshops, expanded range in the Brewtonic drinks shop and even the odd surprise international act for Sim Simma and motel club nights.
While we want things to be consistent we still need to shake up the offerings to keep it exciting
Wigwam is located at 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1
Crego’s Top 4 Tips for opening your own venue
Get your designs 110% before you start building, be able to see exactly how the venue is going to look, spend literally hours thinking about every detail down to the types of cushions and candles until you're happy. Then you have a much clearer idea of the end point. Even google sketch is great for this.
Set a budget, get your quotations and costings, then pair it back to 20% less than your budget as you WILL go over! Lock in every price with every contractor & supplier in advance.
Ask those close to you or those who are well versed in your area for their opinion and ideas. Others will always spot things that you haven't, big and small.
Hire a project manager
We did it ourselves and managed, but it was a hell of a lot of extra work on top of all our other work that an experienced project manager could possibly have managed better. Finish it to 100%. You could open the door at 80% job done but it's those last few details and snags that make that perfect finish, and they can make all the difference. Pin them down!