Buddha Lounge: new lick of paint and fresh start for once troubled venue
�It’s not just a fresh lick of paint, but a completely new start for a once troubled Romford nightspot which its new owners have promised has been turned around.
The Buddha Lounge has recently reopened after a makeover saw an overhaul of the d�cor, as well as a new VIP lounge and sound system.
However, the club’s owners DJ Joe Fletcher and property developer Tony Nicholls, hope to shake off its chequered past.
The venue, in North Street, was once the notorious Opium Lounge, weighted by 48 conditions to its licence and plagued by a history of drugs and violence.
Five doormen from the club were jailed following the death of Hornchurch man Lee Rayner in 2007, who died from head injuries after being stamped on.
Two years later, police tried to have the venue shut down following a weekend sting in which undercover detectives allegedly saw a young clubber overdose on illegal party drug ketamine.
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Joe said: “We were aware of the club’s history and we inherited the existing conditions.
“However, most of these conditions are in place for good practice in operating a licensed venue.
“I think we’ve shaken off the bad reputation by working closely with the police and licensing authorities. We have also carried out significant repairs to improve the look of the venue and have enforced strict door search policies.”
The first thing they did when they took over 20 months ago was ditch the name, opting for a moniker with better Zen instead.
“When the venue was offered to us, we firstly contacted the police and local council to arrange a meeting.
“We all agreed that to make a fresh start, the name of the club should be changed and stricter door search policies would be introduced,” said Tony.
“We currently have a good, clean record since taking over.”
Insp Mick Bates, from Romford Town Centre policing team, said: “The Buddha Lounge is one of a number of licensed premises that works with our licensing and town centre teams as part of the Safe and Sound partnership.
“The venue has embraced all of the initiatives being operated to manage the night time economy and works closely with myself and my town centre team.”
The club hosts weekend house and electro nights and has a weekly radio show on Time 107.5FM on Monday from 10pm to midnight, called The Buddha Lounge Sessions.