In Changing Times by Clyde Mooney

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The very recognisable Gateway Hotel in Islington has reopened as the Newcastle Hotel, shedding its LGBT reputation to be an all-inclusive late-trader, but retaining its rainbow exterior – for now.

The Pertado family has held the title on the Hotel since 1998, taking it on as Club G, before a significant refurbishment in the early 2000s, and rename to the Gateway. For a long time it has been an established ‘safe haven’ for members of the gay community.

In Q3 of 2017 the family briefly put the pub to market to consider its value, but subsequently determined its potential for them lay in a strategic rebrand, capitalising on the “blank canvas” potential cited in the marketing.

The diverse Hotel boasts a 5am licence, and despite being within Newcastle’s 1am curfew catchment is one of only a few that can trade until late.

After a brief closure and conservative internal redesign, the newly named Newcastle Hotel held a soft launch on 3 March, ahead of the doors officially swinging open again on the 7th, to coincide with the first Uni night of the year.

“The venue capacity is around 700, and there were a thousand through the doors for the first Uni night. And they’re a thousand kids that wouldn’t have come under the old branding,” says new licensee Paul Curtis, member of the Pertado family.

“It’s been really well received. The take-up on social media has been great, and the engagement’s been great.”

Predominantly a night-trader at this time, opening at 4pm, the pub will ramp up its work with live music, targeting touring acts and a diverse range of styles, and maintaining the nightclub on the weekends. The brightly coloured exterior will remain for the near future, but a shift to earlier hours at some stage will probably see it painted over.

There is also a new food offering, as part of the efforts to appeal to a broader demographic, beyond its somewhat dated LGBT-only past.

“The Newcastle Hotel will be an all-inclusive venue, catering for local residents, the wider community, and music lovers,” says Curtis.

“For the last four or five years it’s just been a Saturday night venue. That’s not sustainable.

“It needed a new approach, and the different genres of music we’re putting in there are attracting different markets. So it’s not all kids – it’s different people for different styles.

“Positive steps in the first two weeks.”