Namaste Dishoom Birmingham

Jas Sansi enjoys a birthday dinner with his family at Dishoom Birmingham. 

And like the candles on his cake, he’s blown away with the new restaurant at One Chamberlain Square. 

Birmingham’s latest addition to a mesmerising food scene has been gently unveiled over recent weeks. From Michelin Star Celebrity Chefs, Digbeth Dining and Desi Grill Deliveroos, Brum’s tums have never been so spoilt for choice.

Dishoom Birmingham has landed.

Strange sounding name for a restaurant? Readers who grew up hypnotised by 1970s Indian Cinema will be familiar with the name. Dishoom is the sound effect added when the action hero socks the villain, squarely in the jaw.

Social media has been awash with the arrival of bacon naan rolls and exclusive to Brum, a mutton chaap korma. Expect a flurry of images on Instagram of the big Bombay, Dishoom’s full English Breakfast.

Dishoom Birmingham have rolled out the saffron carpet at One Chamberlain Square. The building is shared with PwC but there’s no accounting for the beauty of the restaurant’s interior. It is simply gorgeous.

Dark wood panelling, calming botanicals, ceiling fans and soaring closets showcasing Bombay goods transport you to distant lands as you step into the restaurant. 

The genius of the interior, reminiscent of a bygone era when Irani cafes peppered Bombay is this; it will improve with age. Scuffs, dents and marks will aid the restaurant’s journey from design vision to a neighbourhood favourite. We will make it our own. 

Dishoom Birmingham is spectacular in scale. 330 covers is one small step for Naan, one giant leap for Naan kind. 

Bookings are not taken for parties fewer than six. The customer experience invites you to turn up, walk in, be welcomed (everyone is welcome), sit down, order, eat, drink, settle your chit, exit and savour the memory.

In view of the Corona Virus, NHS England suggest washing your hands before your meal for twenty seconds. Alternatively sing Happy Birthday twice. If you had come with me, you could have sang it three times.

The team behind the group, including Executive Chef Naved Nasir, and Head Babus Shamil and Kavi Thakrar are credited for introducing Indian Street Food to the UK. As first cities outside of their capitals, Bombay is seamlessly twinned with Birmingham.

Bombay (Mumbai) is an incredible place. If you ever get the chance to visit, take a copy of ‘Maximum City – Bombay Lost and Found’ by Suketu Mehta. I can’t imagine you’ll get time to read it there but persevere, it’s an unparalleled insight to the place.

For local intelligence on where to eat in Bombay and how to recreate the group’s menu, pack a copy of ‘From Bombay with Love’ from Dishoom. This has been my bedtime reading over recent weeks. It’s £26 and available in the restaurant.

The food and drinks in Dishoom Birmingham are inspired by the spirit of Southern Indian states unlike other Indian restaurants in the city, which are a nod to North India. It serves up familiar dishes alongside the unfamiliar.

India has never shied away from the ability to innovate. For two thousand years India endured wave after wave of invasion. From Alexander the Great in 326 BC to Great Britain in 1608, foreigners have been drawn to its fertile soil. India in turn adapted to shifting political landscapes.

Some of India’s greatest leaders and cultural icons are celebrated on the walls of Dishoom Birmingham. Look for the photograph of Independent India’s first Prime Minister,  Jawaharlal Nehru in cricket whites. 

I was particularly struck by the photograph of Bhagat Singh. He’s not someone who will ever earn mention in British history books but his memory has never faded from Punjabi folklore. 

Bhagat Singh’s inclusion on the wall demonstrates just how much thought has gone into the restaurant’s design in a region where many people have ancestral ties in Punjab. For younger readers of Punjabi heritage, seek his picture out at Dishoom Birmingham and salute him. Your ancestors will be touched.  

The women and men on this wall represent India’s political and thought leaders. They ended the cycle of adapting to the whims of invaders, and started to set the agenda for a post colonial and free India. 

The world’s largest democracy has shaped our region’s Indian community from 4000 miles away for over 70 years. For Brummies of Indian origin, it is our collective long distance relationship.

That said, India cannot claim a monopoly on adaptive evolution. Look around in Birmingham and the West Midlands right now. Change emanates on our streets, squares and thoroughfares.

Dust hangs in the air from power tools breaking ground. Ideas are being chiseled from granite blocks of creativity.

Dishoom Birmingham isn’t here by accident. This is a city region on the up. And its marching forward at high speed too.

Dishoom offers a fresh perspective on Indian food and what an Indian restaurant in 21st Century Global Britain looks like. Their compass has steered them to a good place with perfect timing.

Namaste Dishoom Birmingham, or as we Sikhs convey, Sat Sri Akaal (True is the Great Timeless One)

You are welcome. You will flourish. We shall eat well together.

Dishoom Birmingham, One Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3AX

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505

Biden, Boris and Brexit

Jimi Hendrix Smashed Guitar at Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle. Photo ©Jas Sansi 2009

He’s gone.

Messages of goodwill from world leaders were slightly delayed allowing him to bow out gracefully. When it became clear this wasn’t happening, the tweets were fired. 

For Democrats, Progressives and Liberals around the world, yesterday was a good day in a year with little to cheer. One virus down, one to go. 

Congratulations to President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris.

Boris Johnson tweeted he is looking forward to ‘…working together on shared priorities from climate change to trade and security.’ 

Meanwhile back in the USA, a reporter asked Joe Biden if he could spare a few words for the BBC. Biden stopped in his tracks, “BBC?” before adding “I’m Irish.”

And there you have it, the first blow struck on the ambition for a UK-US Trade Deal.

Not a promising start on the question ‘Where does a Biden victory leave Brexit Britain?’

If the challenge of rebuilding our economy post Covid wasn’t enough, we now find ourselves isolated. The EU and USA are on the same page. The UK isn’t even in the same book.  

History tells us the ‘Special Relationship’ is strongest when UK and US Governments are politically aligned; Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.  

Tony Blair never recovered from his relationship with George W Bush, David Cameron and Barack Obama had a polite but by no means affectionate bond and Joe Biden considers Boris Johnson to be an ‘a physical and emotional clone of Trump.’ They haven’t even met. 

Biden will remember Boris Johnson describing President Obama as ‘…part Kenyan with an ancestral dislike of the British Empire.’ 

Social Media is suggesting if we think Joe Biden dislikes Boris Johnson, wait until we find out what Kamala Harris thinks of him. 

A Trump win would have favoured a Brexit Trade Deal between the UK and EU. Without doubt. 

Joe Biden as the BBC were informed has Irish heritage and he is resolute about defending the Good Friday Agreement. This takes the threat of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland off the table.

Northern Ireland demand full regulatory alignment with Britain so no to a border down the Irish Sea. UK Fishing Industry want control of British waters. Nissan do not want a ten percent tariff on vehicles exported from Sunderland to the EU. 

We are snookered. Despite Nigel Farage’s best efforts in the Trump Re-election campaign, we are sitting at a gaming table facing the EU, they have a Royal Flush, we are holding a busted one. 

However. The UK is a creative country. Today on Remembrance Sunday, we are reminded of our ability to solve the darkest problems. Nigel Farage would have been better advised to put that £10,000 bet on the UK finding a fix to this challenge rather than backing Trump. 

Biden may not like Boris but the two countries do like one another. Kamala Harris and Chancellor Rishi Sunak both share Indian and Commonwealth heritage. Awkward problems have been solved over Chai and Samosas. 

It may be time to bring out the best china.

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, UK.

07930 837 505 @jassansi

Conference Class

Having spent the last 12 years photographing conferences, allow me to share some of the best practice I have witnessed and captured.

I’m Jas Sansi and this is my Conference Class from the perspective of a Photographer.

  1. Have a panel that reflects the audience

It’s not only diversity of colour or gender the world needs, its diversity of ideas and thoughts. And no single colour or gender has a monopoly on this.

Look at your conference panel, will the audience roll their eyes or sit up and listen. Be brave, go wider.

2. Get a Zebra

Remember your sponsors; Weave their brand into the Conference theme. If the Sponsor’s logo is a Zebra, get a Zebra. Doesn’t have to be a real one.

3. Go outside your comfort zone

A Conference Venue is the safest bet for a Conference but cities are packed with different options to host your event. Nightclubs, Museums, Libraries are just a few ideas. Think outside of the box.

4. Product Placement

Whatever your product, have it on display at your Conference. Or change it into a work of art and display that instead. Be proud.

5. Paint the venue

Flood your conference with your corporate colours. Painting with light is easier than with paint.

6. Host a seminar on a canal boat

Take delegates outside. If you’re near a canal, organise a canal boat. Birmingham has more canals and conferences than Venice.

7. Cash in on local history

Everywhere is famous for something. Utilise local history in Conference Marketing.

8. Reduce travel

Hosting a conference in a hotel removes the travel time back and forth to the venue.

Having the key note speaker on site and checked into a room ahead of their slot, is one less thing to worry about.

9. Cut the Coat

Cities have distinct districts, if you’re an edgy start up creative, host your conference in an edgy creative part of town.

10. Always look at the camera

When taking a selfie, always look at the mobile phone not the photographer taking a picture of the selfie being taken.

11. Look out for flashers

Remind photographers not to use flash during a speech. It distracts the speaker as well as the audience.

12. The Money Shot

Always capture a Press Release image that summaries the conference.

13. Trust Your Gut Instinct

If you believe the Press Release image may not work, have a back up one just in case.

14. Crowd Control

If everyone wants to be in the picture, take control even if there are VIPs in the shot. They will appreciate it.

15. Have Your Cake

Coffee breaks allow networking and refreshment. Everyone loves cake but ensure you account for Gluten Free and other dietary requirements. It demonstrates you are a details person.

16. Time waits for no one

Panel speakers are often rushing from one seminar to the next. If you want a key image after the speeches, let the panellists know before they engage in one to ones with the audience.

17. Fame

If you have famous celebrities, plan the photo call ahead of schedule. If fans are also in attendance, understand that you may have to react to events rather than trying to keep to a script.

18. Take a Walk

Stepping outside of the conference space can sometimes pay dividends if you are looking for an interesting shot.

19. Mindfullness

Encouraging good mental health is a win win.

Offering an early morning Yoga session to conference delegates communicates you have their best interests at heart.

20. Take a lead

One of the longest queues, I have ever seen at a Conference breakout session was the opportunity to meet a number of Guide Dogs.

The positive effect they had on delegates was incredible.

21. Blue Sky Thinking

If skies are clear, use outside space for photo calls. Look out for delegates wearing reactor light spectacles though.

22. The Shadows

Light is one of the most important ingredients of a successful Conference. As a photographer, it provides so many opportunities to capture the event.

23. Did I mention cake?


24. Tap into a Major Conference

This is a clever idea. If you are not part of a conference but still want to engage with those attending the conference, organise a networking lunch nearby and invite the individuals you wish to speak to.

25. Networking Breakfast

A networking breakfast is an effective way to welcome delegates and create a holding space during registration.

26. Welcome Tour

Organising a walking tour of the host city the night before Conference is a great welcome to the event.

27. The Games People Play

Have engaging games on Conference stands to draw people in. A Scoreboard with a Conference End prize will introduce a level of competition keeping your brand in the minds of delegates.

28. Nudge

Nudge delegates to engage with your social media platforms by offering an incentive on your Conference stands.

29. Innovate Everything

Everything can be re-invented. People may distrust change but they love innovation. Full English Breakfast on a stick anyone?

30. Hashtag

Ensure you have a Hashtag e.g. #TPC2019. Don’t have more than one. And check the hashtag before you announce it. And then announce it. Keep mentioning it throughout conference.

Encourage all delegates to use it across all Social Media channels before, during and after Conference.

31. Thanks for Nothing

Remember to thank everyone; Sponsors, Delegates, The Venue, Conference Organisers, everyone. It ends a Conference on a uplifting note. And it costs nothing.

I think that’s enough to be going on with. Thank you for reading this blog.

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham specialising in Conference and Event Photography and Film.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

Reflecting on Events

Edgbaston Stadium is lit up in RED in global solidarity with the #WeMakeEvents campaign.

The campaign urges Government to support the Events Industry during the Covid 19 crisis.

West Bromwich Albion season ticket holders travel fewer miles than any other football fans in the country to attend away games.

Newcastle United fans at the other end of the spectrum, travel the furthest, with or without their shirts. A round trip to Portsmouth is around 1000 miles.

Place matters. Birmingham, at the heart of Britain enjoys proximity to much of the country’s population.

Birmingham’s geographical advantage makes it a natural choice for hosting Conferences, Festivals and Events.

The city is proud of its world class venues, delivering world class events wrapped around world class service.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the Events Industry to a shuddering halt. As a freelancer specialising in Conference and Event Photography, assignments vanished at the speed of a text in the days leading to 20th March 2020.

Six months on, they have yet to return.

#WeMakeEvents is a campaign born in the UK but adopted globally to urge Government to support the Events Industry at this critical junction.

Red Alert – Throw us a Line‘ has flooded some of the world’s most iconic venues in Red light ‘coming together in a spirit of mutual support and solidarity.’

Last night saw Edgbaston Stadium lit in red, one of many of Brum’s venues drawing attention to the campaign.

The numbers around the £42 Billion Events Industry are staggering; 570,000 jobs, over 10,000 venues, 85 Million annual attendees across 1.3 Million events.

These are not unviable jobs, they represent a significant chunk of the UK economy. The tax generated contributes to the education of children, the welfare of the vulnerable and the health of the nation.

The ask to Government is please, save this industry. It was the first to go into lockdown and it will be the last to come out.

The Events Industry creates the relationships and facilitates the sharing of knowledge which fuels business. It is business that generates the tax that allows a nation to prosper.

In a world obsessed with building walls, it is time to build a bridge between Government and this industry.

Eat Out to Help Out

Primitivo Bar & Eatery in Birmingham’s Colmore Business District celebrate their 24th Anniversary this week.

Coincidentally, its also my and Anji’s 24th Anniversary this week. So where better to enjoy lunch in the sun.


The weather was incredible, a pavement table was available and Rishi Sunak was footing 50% of the bill up to a maximum of £10 per person. If there was a fruit machine in the bar, it would be the equivalent of scoring three big ticks followed by an endless waterfall of 50p coins.

Primitivo reopened two weeks ago with a full array of safety precautions; foot operated sanitizers, protective screens, a one way system and a food menu allowing reduced numbers of staff in the kitchen. There are single visitor loos on hand so no more taking your friend with you.


There’s even a new South American beer, Modelo for those who want to avoid the C word. I opted for Sparkling Water, with temperatures north of 30 degrees centigrade,  it went down like Champagne.

I was in a Glasgow Wetherspoons last week and ordered Haddock and Chips. I’m not saying it was intimidating but even the fish ran out. Back in Brum, Primitivo are thankfully more on the ball with stock levels.

Haddock and CHips

Despite half a century and at least 10,000 hours of unwrapping fish and chips, I can’t claim to be an expert but it was, as my daughter would say, ‘fire.’

For readers above the age of 19, Haddock and Chips; beer battered haddock, hand cut chips, mushy peas and tarar sauce (£11.95) the description ‘fire’ is a very good thing.

Anji chose the Thai Fishcake; delicately spiced with chilli and lime, fresh spring onion salad and sweet chilli dressing (£7.95) with a side of Fries (V) £4.00. She kindly offered me some and it was awesome.

The kitchen boasts local gastronomic heritage. Chef Murray is non other than local legend Paul Fulford’s son. It’s like going to Guitar Guitar on Hagley Road and buying a Fender from Eric Clapton’s kid.

Both meals, a side and soft drinks allowed us to take full advantage of Rishi’s 50% Eat Out to Help Out cap of £10 per person.


Eat Out to Help Out runs until the end of August. It’s good to see Government use Nudge Economics to encourage those who can, venture out and support the hospitality industry.

VAT has also been temporarily reduced from 20% to 5%.

We learned this morning we are officially in recession. Supporting local independent businesses is the fast track to get our region back into the fast lane. Money spent in venues such as Primitivo fund the wages of it’s staff and are reinvested locally.

Thank you to all the team for a fabulous experience. Congratulations Prit on your 24th Anniversary. Thank you Rishi for your contribution and a huge thank you to my wife for the 24 years of friendship, love and support.

Primitivo Bar & Eatery 10 Barwick Street Birmingham B3 2NT 

0121 236 6866





Safety Features:

Primitivo is Back

Primitivo Bar & Eatery in the heart of Birmingham’s business district is back. 


As one of Birmingham’s longest operating independents, Primitivo Bar & Eatery is back after the Covid-19 shutdown.

The team are looking forward to welcoming back customers to Brum’s business district.

A number of measures are in place to ensure customers can enjoy their visit in safety. These include a one way system around the venue with separate Entrance and Exit.


A foot operated hand sanitiser is located at the entrance.


Safety screens are in place all along the bar.


Hand sanitiser points labelled ‘Be Wise, Sanitise’ are located throughout the venue.


Bathrooms are limited to one person to access at a time.

Despite being a city centre bar, Primitivo offers a large space to allow social distancing. The private function area has been incorporated to increase space for customers.

Primitivo owner Prit Sagoo speaking ahead of the opening told me “We’re looking forward to our 24th Anniversary on August 15th 2020 and we’re so pleased we can celebrate this milestone in the company of our loyal customers, many of whom have become close friends. The team have demonstrated strength, passion and determination and we can’t wait to throw our doors open.


The food menu is new. It has been designed to allow safe preparation on site.


There’s incredible art work on the walls including iconic images by Brum’s very own Jim Simpson.


Primitivo opens tomorrow morning (Wednesday 29th July 2020) at 10am and its a pleasure to see Prit and the team back in the city doing what they do best.

They are supporting the ‘Eat Out to Help Out‘ initiative offering 50% off food to a maximum value of £10 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Primitivo Bar & Eatery 10 Barwick Street Birmingham B3 2NT 

0121 236 6866





Safety Features:


Not All Heroes wear Capes

Westside BID Warden’s high visibility work wear doesn’t guarantee everything they do is seen. 


Westside Business Improvement District (BID) exists to ensure the Westside area of Birmingham is brighter, safer and cleaner.

One of the challenge the district’s team faces on a daily basis is managing homelessness on its streets.

Westside Wardens speak to the homeless throughout the day and night in an effort to understand the issues of homelessness. This is a balancing act of their responsibilities to the business community and assisting the individuals who live on the streets.

One of the strategies Wardens have adopted to build trust with the homeless is providing them with water bottles. Hydration becomes increasingly acute in the Summer months when temperatures in the city soar.

This relives pressure on emergency services, assists in the physical welfare of the homeless and builds trust between them and the Wardens.

This line of communication allows Wardens to inform and update the homeless individuals they work with on support mechanisms including shelter and substance abuse.

General Manager of Westside BID Mike Olley explained ‘…this is the pastoral element of the Wardens which goes on behind the scenes and headlines of the district. We recognise the homeless individuals as part of our community and endeavour to raise their spirits in the challenges they face each and every day. An example are the Church services that are organised specifically for the homeless community.”

“Unfortunately the life expectancy of those who sleep rough is compromised, many will not survive their predicament. The annual Church Services allow those who have passed to be remembered. It is a reminder of the fragility of life and our responsibility to those around us.’

Westside BID on Twitter

Westside BID


Telecom Cabinets in front of a listed building? Hang on.

Westside displays its best side in defending the heritage of the district against a hasty telecommunications proposal to locate telecom cabinets in front of the Grade 2 listed Brasshouse. 

The Whisky Brothers hit the right notes in a low key protest that avoids putting pressure on emergency services. 


Westside BID, Birmingham’s entertainment hub, boasts an eclectic collection of buildings. These include cutting edge FTSE 100 corporate head quarters, Europe’s largest library, Brum’s tallest apartment block and heritage listed buildings. 


Given the choices then for locating five telephone exchange boxes, you would be surprised to learn the proposed choice is in front of one of the district’s few Grade Two listed building, The Brasshouse, a popular Pub and Restaurant. 


Westside BID organised a peaceful protest welcoming Birmingham Jazz Festival’s Jim Simpson and The Whisky Boys to perform a blues number in front of the venue to bring attention to this rash decision. 


Communication infrastructure is vital in a modern metropolis but decisions on where hubs and exchanges are located should not be made at the expense of heritage. 


The infrastructure will detract from the aesthetics of The Brasshouse which sits on the Birmingham Canal Old Line. Surely an alternative spot can be identified. 

…please respect our city

Canals6 copy

Mike Olley, General Manager of Westside BID commenting on the proposal “Even in the dark days of the Corona crisis we can still have a bit of fun in getting over a serious message.  I am delighted Jim Simpson unofficially kicked off the Jazz Festival supporting the heritage of Broad Street with his protest ballad. Special thanks also to the Whisky Brothers and friend for their live protest performance. 


This economically charged, lazy and irresponsible planning application needs to be called out for what it is: design on the cheap at the expense of our delightfully crafted city.  I urge the officers and planning councillors to boot it out on those grounds alone. 


I ask the applicant to consider our beautifully built environment over their shareholders dividends and to instead put in a considered, balanced application.  I would make the point that we have no objection whatsoever to two other similar applications nearby. After all we love our smartphones but please respect our city.

Look out for updates on this story from the Westside BID social media platforms.

Watch the Protest Song on YouTube:

Follow Westside BID on twitter @westsidebid

Follow Westside BID on Facebook

Visit The Brasshouse



Normality after COVID-19 equals the opening of nightclubs

Real normality after COVID-19 will only come with the opening of nightclubs, according to Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID.

19 Mike Olley outside Velvet Music Rooms

No one doubts the dramatic impact that the coronavirus has had on all our worlds.  Who could have contemplated the era of lockdown during the last few months?

To date nearly 40,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus and, perhaps even more depressing, the “excess death rate” for the period is above 60,000.  That perhaps a better indicator of the cost in lives to our nation.

The death count grows but this itself may tarnish the fact that this desperate time is coming to an end.  On 8 April, a daily high of 1,260 deaths was reported.  In the next three weeks that rate was to half and half again.  The downward trend is well and truly with us.  

It could well be that by the end of June 2020 all may well be close to normal.  I am aware that many will be concerned that the trend could be subject to a “second spike”.  Yet the conditions in Denmark and Austria, who are both several steps ahead of the UK, indicate that a second spike is not a given.  That data is encouraging.

On 1 June horse racing started again, the last race meet being 20 March.  Some year groups in schools also went back on 1 June, and shielded patients, those with acute health indicators, have been allowed out with the rest of the population.  All these are significant and huge steps towards recovery.

On 4 July many of the pubs in and around Broad Street will be reopening.  All will be taking baby steps to ensure their staff and customers are safe and well.  A nurse, under current circumstances is the 2nd most dangerous occupation in the UK.  A police officer the 27th.  Bar staff are number 292 on the list and, just for good measure, accountants are at 317.  It appears, if we as punters apply a bit of common sense and stay alert, all will be well.

therefore welcome the return of the great British pub.  But when will nightclubs reopen?  Naturally, it is the government who will have the final say on this, but matters are now rolling out at a pace.  The desperate health condition coronavirus has visited on the UK is horrid.  Yet we are also confronted with an economic catastrophe unless we intelligently act to deal with this imperative.

I see a clear measure of normality revisiting our shores once nightclubs reopen.  Nightclubs are a bit more demanding in terms of close contact, but then they tend to be a lot larger than pubs.  I know many nightclub operators and, believe you me, they are more than capable of overcoming most any obstacles.  

Driven by the critical dimension of economics they will develop imaginative and safe ways to open.  I feel this could well be August, maybe September, with a bit of care and consideration.

One of the Westside BID nightclubs, Sugar Suite featured on an ITV Central piece about the reopening of this sector of the night time economy. Sisters Dani Collins Hadley and Eilis Collins explained how their popular venue will be adapted to accommodate demands for social distancing.

17 Dani Collins Hadley and Eilis Collins (Sugar Suite)


Sugar Suite offers VIP booths where clusters of guests can be accommodated. Table service will prevent the need to visit the bar and bathrooms can be restructured eg a middle wash basin in a group of three can be taken out of service.

5 Eilis Collins and Dani Collins Hadley

Sugar Suite owner Dani Collins Hadley looking forward to the return of club regulars told ITV ‘All businesses in hospitality will have to adapt quickly. We’re optimistic, we have to learn how to embrace change. People have embraced social distancing, we get it. I have full confidence in my staff.

The days of the traditional dance floor will be on pause for now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have our top DJs, top quality sound systems and create that club type vibe.

Business partner Eilis Collins added ‘Our customers enjoy VIP tables and table service, so for us that’s our natural progression, we’re going to deliver that throughout the whole venue focusing on giving more customers that opportunity to take up that VIP service.

Sugar Suite is located above Velvet Music Rooms offering a traditional Irish pub feel with a twist. Cool, quirk, contemporary decor, traditional ales and delicious menus.

15 Dani Collins Hadley and Eilis Collins (Sugar Suite)

At weekends the venues comes alive with live DJs, with Sugar Suite upstairs opening its doors to the hottest urban events in Birmingham.

14 Dani Collins Hadley and Eilis Collins (Sugar Suite)

Watch this space as when nightclubs do reopen it will be a key indicator of the nation getting back to normal.


Mike Olley is General Manager of Westside BID, the Business Improvement District that looks after Broad Street, Brindleyplace and the surrounding area. 

Velvet Music Rooms


Driving Traffic at Expo

Jas Sansi visits the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Expo at Villa Park.

He wonders how Exhibitors steer traffic to their stands. A blog including some great tips on making the most of Exhibiting. 


Business Expos exist to exchange information. They represent the marketing stage of business. They generate leads, ignite conversations and ultimately brings buyers and sellers together in the exchange of goods and services.

Expos make the world go round.

I’ve attended Expos for a number of years. I’ve never left without learning something, making a connection or catching up with a colleague. They’re a valuable tool in the arena of business.

CEO of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Paul Faulkner explained their purpose ‘….people do business with people. Expos are a great way to take a little time to engage with other members of the business community. Expos provide an opportunity for more detailed conversations.’

As I walked around the Expo, I was intrigued as to how businesses attract delegates to their stands. What strategies are in play to break down barriers between both parties and light the touch paper of trade.

I approached a number of exhibitors and asked them that very question ‘how do you drive traffic to your stand?

Macdonald Hotels 

Kirsty Nicholls, Sales Development Manager introduced a putting green to her stand. Delegates who sink three golf balls in a row can win a round of golf.

This is a very clever hook because the Birmingham hotel where Kirsty works does not have any outside space but it allows her to tap into a new market; the Golf Fraternity.

Golf enthusiasts may need a hotel to stay in whilst enjoying their golfing holiday.

For more information email Kirsty on

Brum Breathes 

Birmingham will be introducing a Clean Air Zone in Summer 2020.

The team were exhibiting today at Villa Park and shared with me a seasoned technique called Hooker, Helper, Hero; attract a delegate, discuss their needs and solve a problem they may have.

The Birmingham City Council team also use the Expo as an opportunity to inform other Exhibitors about the Clean Air Zone initiative.

I learned public buses in Birmingham are amongst the cheapest 10% in the country to use.

Go to to see if your car is compliant.

Birmingham St Marys Hospice 

This much loved Charity use a bright pink colour and collateral to attract the attention of delegates.

There is also an interactive True or False quiz about the Hospice with a Chocolate reward for taking part.

Lean more about St Marys Hospice at and follow on Twitter @brumshospice 

Feature Medical Training 

Feature Medical Training (FMT) provide First Aid Training and Mental Health awareness.

The team from FMT use social media to announce their Expo attendance ahead of the event, and again when they have their stand number.

Jo explained ‘…we exchange business cards at Expo and follow up within 24 hours.

For more information about Feature Medical Training, Email Jo at

On Facebook at

Villa Park, home of Aston Villa 

The hosts were also exhibiting at Expo.

I caught up with Isaak Damico who explained the importance of making the right impression with a strong backdrop and high quality Collateral.

They offered a business card draw with the chance to win a bottle of Champagne.

The business cards are collated and acted upon with specific queries prioritised.

Reach out to Isaak Damico on Linkedin for more information about Villa Park:

Canal and River Trust 

Expo Sponsors, Canal and River Trust look after 900 km of Rivers and Canals in the West Midlands.

They are in the process of planting fruit trees along the canal network from Birmingham to Wolverhampton. This will create the longest orchard in the world.

Local communities will be able to access and pick free fruit whilst enjoying the canals.

I learned all of this from Terry Hodgetts, Business Engagement Partner at the Trust. He added ‘…with the increase in house building, the canal network may be the last accessible green space available for people to enjoy.

Their stand exercises the power of chocolate to attract delegates. There are also accessible stress balls until the opportunity to relax waterside.

For more information email Terry on

Follow on Twitter @CanalRiverTrust

Edgbaston Park Hotel 

Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre is located on the University of Birmingham campus.

The team had a Spin the Wheel competition with a range of prizes ranging from Afternoon Tea for two, a notebook, lip balm, chocolate or a set of high lighters.

This was a very powerful tool in attracting delegates. I even tried to blag a second attempt having failed to secure the Afternoon Tea but alas, pleas for teas fell on deaf ears.

Phone 0121 414 8888 to book Mother’s Day Lunch (limited availability) or Easter Sunday lunch (both £27.50)

Birmingham City University
Tips provided by BCU included the power of eye contact and ensuring there is enough space to engage. To engage socially as well as professionally.
The exhibiting team had a Business Card bowl. These are followed up on the next day identifying specific requests and those for general information.
Hands on at Work 
Wellbeing in the workplace is a key buzzword. Hands on Work provide seated massages in your office.
This company has a unique offer, whilst exhibiting, they have massage seats which are always a popular draw for visitors who may have been on their feet for hours.
In addition to this, they are also available for hire for other exhibitors. They will wear your corporate colours and provide shoulder and back massages to your stand’s visitors.
Sound good? Contact Kathy Scott on or 07989 367 669
University of Birmingham
When exhibiting, the University often display a three foot high Wind Turbine made of Lego. This is a powerful draw for Expo visitors and ties in with the University’s Energy Agenda.
It’s eye catching and relevant.
The next University of Birmingham Business Club Event is on 31st March, more information at or follow @KatieJatWork


So there you are, just a small sample of Exhibitors and the strategies they adopt in attracting delegates to their stands.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce deliver over 250 events a year including the Spring and Autumn Expo.
Join the Chamber, get involved and grow your businesses.
Link to the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce website for information on membership, events and much more:


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a Trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today newspaper 

@jassansi 07930 837 505