Ipswich: Brewery Tap landlord to take over former Kai Bar at UCS in time for Waterfront’s maritime festival

Mike Keen to take over Kai Bar

Mike Keen to take over Kai Bar - Credit: Archant

The landlord of one of Ipswich’s best-known pubs is to re-open the university bar on the Waterfront later this month.

Mike Keen from The Brewery Tap will take over the former Kai Bar and Bistro, located at University Campus Suffolk’s James Hehir Building.

The venue, which opened two-and-a-half years ago, closed last December after posting significant losses.

It will be re-named Cult Cafe Bar and will remain a student location but will be open to the general public as before. Students and UCS staff will receive a 20% discount.

The Brewery Tap is renowned for its locally brewed beers and Suffolk-sourced food, and owner Mr Keen plans for Cult Cafe to follow suit.


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He said: “We’re going for exactly the same kind of ethos as the Tap, except we’ll have more real lagers on the bar rather than ales.

“The Brewery Tap is a destination out of the way and people come to us for real ale but lager is more popular along the Waterfront.

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“We’ll stick with the quality stuff we produce in the UK rather than your usual Fosters and Carlsberg.

“The food will be American diner-style but we’ll be using all Suffolk produce and we’re even making our own hot dogs. The bar will open at 8am for breakfast and the main menu will be available 11am until 9pm.”

The bar is set to open on August 21, just in time for the maritime festival weekend which last year attracted almost 60,000 visitors to the Waterfront.

Mr Keen added: “We’ll just keep our heads down and try and survive! The staff we have in place are more than capable.

“We’ve got a late license so we’ll have a couple of late nights but we don’t want to try and compete with places like Liquid Envy. Like the Tap, we’ll keep it simple and do it well instead of trying to add gimmicks.”

The bar has already started pencilling bands into their live music schedule and is currently organising events for freshers week with UCS.

A UCS spokesman said: “UCS is delighted that Cult Café Bar will be opening in the James Hehir building for new students starting this September. We hope the new facility will enhance the experience for all those studying and working at UCS, as well as a great place to eat and drink for members of the public”.

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