The new managers of Angola 76 in Shaftesbury, Sally and Andy Francis, are hoping for a new lease of life and new success after leaving The Two Brewers in St James to take on the town’s characterful music bar-cum-restaurant in Mustons Lane.
Having been given the reins this year by owners John and Mariane Morgan, they say their ambition now is to make the venue ‘one of the biggest and best attractions in town for the whole family’, with live music, international food, DJ and ‘open mic’ nights – and even branching out into doing bed-and-breakfast.
With live music high on the list, the couple are demonstrating their intention by hosting 23 live shows over the three days of Shaftesbury Fringe on 5-7 July, making Angola 76 one of the top Fringe venues this year.
And it doesn’t end there: the venue is now hosting live music acts every Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon featuring the likes of Kharma Alarm, Phil Budden and The Blue Chords, Big Brass Ska and the Bell Street Jazz Band.
‘Basically Thursday is acoustic upbeat night and Sunday is jazz and blues,’ said Sally. ‘We’re not so much about trying to be the number one music venue with big names as a grassroots music venue where local artists can have a platform to showcase their talents.’
To add extra spice the couple have also now revamped the kitchen and introduced a new mezzanine eating area and lounge bar so the venue seats 30 and there’s a new menu that Sally describes as ‘a mix of American Diner meets Nandos’ she hopes will attractive lunchtime eaters as much as evening ones.
‘The idea is to become known as not just a night venue for young people but as somewhere that caters for all ages and tastes in music and food. I would like us to be recognised for having really tasty options with good service and facilities for large bookings and parties for private events.’
And as if that wasn’t enough, in the next few weeks they’re adding bed and breakfast to the offer, with eight guest rooms within the complex.
‘We’re really happy with the progress we’ve made so far since we came here and feel Angola 76 is becoming a real community venue for all the family and contributing to the success of the whole town,’ said Sally who has managed bars and restaurants with husband Andy in London and Dubai before returning to Shaftesbury where she was born and brought up.
‘Angola 76 has been a bar-music venue for the last three years but the venue has gone from strength to strength since we took over and we’re determined to make it even more successful.
‘Being from the town I’m familiar with the people and understand the importance of doing something different you wouldn’t normally find in a small town that can provide free entertainment for all ages and offer exciting food and cocktail options as well as employment and training to young people locally in Shaftesbury.’
For details of what’s on at Angola 76 go to www.angola76.co.uk