'Lose-lose situation': Romford's Funktion nightclub to close permanently
- Credit: Funktion
Funktion nightclub in North Street, Romford, will not be returning after the pandemic restrictions are lifted.
The club was formerly the Opium Lounge and prior to that, the Buddha Lounge.
Owner, Matthew Johnson, 35, has sold the property back to its leaseholder and says he has no idea what might become of it, although he speculated: "I reckon it's going to get knocked down and turned into flats."
The nightclub has been closed for a year because of Covid regulations and Matthew made the decision in February to sell and concentrate his efforts into a new project, the Pink Zebra, a bar and restaurant in Waltham Abbey he has taken over to open when hospitality reopens (May 17 if restriction lifting isn't delayed).
He said: "Imagining 950 people in close proximity in a post-Covid world is impossible, even if we open but have to slash capacity, the financial ramifications would still be devastating, it just felt like a lose-lose situation.
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"My gut told me that it was too risky. If there are more Covid spikes, it's not financially sustainable, so it makes more sense to spend less money on venues that have multi-uses.
"I have still got a Covid mindset with the concern of new virus variants. The government pledged that the November lockdown was the last and it wasn't. Now we have to make our own judgments."
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Although Matthew did qualify for some portion of furlough grants - initially the business rate grant and later the local restrictions grant - he says it covered a fraction of the club's overheads, and he has been eating into his savings to pay the venue's bill and support himself.
The club was bought and rebranded by Matthew in 2018.
He said: "I am really sad to leave it behind, we literally just started to turn over, pick up momentum and then we just totally flatlined out of nowhere."
Working his way from the bottom, Matthew started DJing in Year 9 in school and later became a club promoter.
After 15 years in the industry, he was able to start up Funktion, his first club venture, in his home town.