So, last year this crazy thing happened. I need to stop discrediting myself by saying “somehow I ended up owning a bar” and say “after working a heap of different hospitality jobs for different companies over the last 14 years and soaking up every snippet of advice I could about starting a business, running a business, and general witchery I decided to take a calculated risk.” Not too calculated mind you, I mean there was certainly an element of crazy there.
Naming my new bar, as it turns out, was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Why did I call my bar Cupid?
The short answer is, because someone told me not to.
The longer answer is, because more than one person told me not to and I had to think really hard about what I was in this for.
The business I thought I was going to start – my specialty craft beer shop – was going to be called McGinty’s Beer Shop. A bastardisation of my surname that nobody can remember or pronounce: McEntegart.
That’s a sensible name for a beer shop. But I didn’t start a beer shop. I bought this alluring little bar in what was formerly the entranceway to an art deco style cinema built in 1929. It is rumoured to have a few resident ghosts (thankfully I don’t see them but I am certainly not doing any séances in the bar). It’s been a vibrant, messy, banging rock and roll venue as well as its time spent as a cinema and it wants to put its name back on the map.
For this bar, I felt it needed a strong name that people would remember, that referenced history, nostalgia, romance, tragedy, human emotions like love and despair. When I came up with Cupid it seemed to fit all the grand illusions I was having. I was pulling off opulence on a budget.
I came across this brilliant post by a woman called Ash Ambirge whose blog I follow. Titled “My Brand is Boring as Fuck. With a capital F.” it helped me to realise what I wanted to do.
I didn’t want to be Boring as Fuck. I wanted to play Nick Cave songs and drink enough whisky to start growing a beard while swanning about dressed like Stevie Nicks and turning men into toads. I’m halfway there, in case you’re wondering.
Unsurprisingly, there are a number of musical references to Cupid (the first of which was my main inspiration if you haven’t guessed).
“Cupid”, Sam Cooke, released 1961
“Don’t Mess With Cupid”, Otis Redding, 1968
“Hello from Cupid”, Jonathan Richman, 1998
“Cupid”, The Brunettes, 2002
“Happy Valentine’s Day”, OutKast, 2003
“Cupid”, Amy Winehouse (cover of Sam Cooke) released 2006
“Cupid Carries a Gun”, Marilyn Manson, 2015
Music has become an important feature in my bar, which perhaps is unsurprising given that it owes its name to a song. If you want to hear my playlist, click the link on my website here: www.cupidbar.net/links/
Intuition, AKA trusting your gut, plays a really big part in running a business. So does defining your values and being true to yourself. I have been waiting an excruciatingly long time for my opportunity to shine, and while I know I’m a slow burner, I’m not (as some would say more bluntly) here for the heavy petting of arachnids. I’ll be okay as long as I don’t go kissing any more amphibians.