New Preston comedy club closes as staff 'pinged' and forced to isolate

Members of bar staff at the new ROFL comedy club have been told to self-isolate by the Track and Trace app, forcing owner Lee Jones to close the venue until the end of August.

By James Holt
Thursday, 5th August 2021, 10:38 am

Set to bring headline acts to the city every weekend, the new ROFL comedy club opened up in the former Five's restaurant in May.

And despite being a 'huge success' so far, with the venue offering weekly comedy nights, live music and a cocktail bar, the doors have been closed after six members of staff were forced into isolation.

Now the venue is gearing up to host another reopening again in a few short weeks, August 27, after it is fully deep cleaned and more staff members are hired.

The new comedy club has decided to close for the next few weeks

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Former boxer and owner Lee Jones, who set up the ROFL comedy club after beating cancer, said that the response to the new comedy club in Preston has been good, but that it has been a challenge during such uncertain times.

The 38-year-old said: "We first opened during the lockdown and it was such a challenge getting things up and running during these difficult times to begin with.

"Like many venues, we have been the victim of the so-called 'pingdemic', with a lot of our staff unable to go anywhere and told to isolate and stay in their homes.

Steve Harris is the resident comedian at the new Preston club

"All the staff who we need to work in the bar have been told to isolate, and it has come at a time where all bars and clubs are struggling for staff. We finally managed to get a good team together and then they are pinged.

"Luckily it is traditionally a quieter time for comedy at the minute because so many comedians aren't available as they are performing at festivals, so instead of struggling and doing a half-hearted job, we chose to close and wait until we get extra staff to reopen."

The ROFL club has taken over the top floor of the old Fives Bar and Grill building, on Guildhall street, and is set to bring three headline acts to the city every weekend in an exciting new comedy night.

Fives Bar and Grill first closed down for good on New Year's Eve 2018, before the grade II listed building was then put up for sale last year for £1.25 million.

The comedy club has opened at the former Five's restaurant

Owner Lee Jones, also managed comedy club venues in Derby, Sheffield and Newcastle-under-Lyme, offering weekly stand up nights with experienced comics and popular TV faces.

He added: "The response so far has been very good. Obviously, under the circumstances, it has been challenging to get people in, but in the six weeks we have been open, we have seen many repeat visitors and people coming back.

"We have strong lineups because every act on our stage is a headline act. It's a great show in a beautiful venue and we will be sticking with table service to give all our customers a great experience and ensure they are looked after and enjoying their night.

"We are a full-time comedy club who needs to fill the room 104 times a year. It is a transient business and we will always be hiring and looking for keen people who want a nice place to work in Preston."

Find out more information at the ROFL Preston Facebook Page.

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