Max Venning: A new oasis

06 November, 2018

Shay Waterworth meets Max Venning as he gears up to open his latest watering hole in London

THE GALLAGHER BROTHERS of rock band Oasis are arguably the most famous Mancunians on the planet. But now a new duo of siblings from the city is taking on a similar stature in the London bar scene. Max Venning and his brother Noel are best known for setting up Three Sheets in Dalston but, unlike the Gallaghers, who famously follow Manchester City Football Club, Max Venning belongs to the red half of Manchester.

“When you grow up in Manchester, one of the first decisions you have to make is whether you’re red or blue,” says (Max) Venning. “I’m still a season ticket holder at United, so I try to go back for as many games as possible.”

In 2009 Oasis broke up after the relationship between the Gallaghers collapsed. While the younger brothers from both these rock and bar star families have an older brother called Noel, there aren’t many similarities otherwise.

“In a broadly northern way we get on really well,” says Max. “We have our good days and bad days. There’s no holding back with our opinions and we’re quite relaxed in that sense, so it’s a strong working relationship.”

Max was the first Venning to move from Manchester to London following the 42Below Cocktail World Cup in 2012.

“We were in New Zealand for 10 days, which was an absolutely bonkers trip. Tony (Conigliaro) was a judge and I was inspired by a couple of his talks and asked him for a job. Originally I was going to go to work for his then-new bar in Paris after a three-month probation in London, but I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t leave.”

After working at Tony C’s consultancy firm, Drink Factory, for a couple of years, Venning opened Bar Termini under the company’s name, taking on the role of operations manager. Bar Termini is currently ninth on the list of The World’s 50 Best Bars.

Venning’s next big move was to open a bar of his own, something which attracted brother Noel down to the Smoke.

“I remember walking down the street one day and seeing a space advertised at an estate agents. I asked for details and put an offer in that day. I only had about £200 in my account so I was in no position to do so.

“I phoned Noel and told him what I’d done and he said ‘we’re probably ready to give it a go’, so we sat down and worked out how much money we needed.

“Our grandfather had just passed away and left us with a sum of money. Obviously it was a terrible thing to happen but the money was actually quite good timing.

“My original offer was rejected, but a couple of months later we were given a reduced rate after the first offer fell through. We signed the lease the day after the Brexit vote and even the lawyer was asking us if we still wanted to go through with it. Then, 48 hours later, we opened. We had £500 left over for operating expenses, which is mad.”

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