Turns out yours truly has been revolting since the very start; by which is meant, of course, I have been a customer of the Revolution bar chain since its earliest days – although any reader content to stick with the obvious alternative interpretation is also welcome to stick it where the sun don’t shine.
The first Revolution bar in Manchester’s Oxford Road was, for a period in the 1990s (it opened 1996), a fairly frequent haunt; quite unaware, of course, that it was the first of anything.
Just a comfortably lo-fi and unfussy hole with plenty of cold bottles, vodka from every outpost of the then recently shattered Soviet Bloc (bewildering in itself, to a young man raised on a strict choice of Smirnoff, that paint stripper from Varrington and Spar own brand) and a nice line in modern trad. pub stodge, big burgers, cheesy fish finger sarnies and such.
Decorate with some Lenin-era revolutionary iconography and bob’s your jackpot.
Stagger forward 17 years and there are 60-odd such bars the length and breadth of mainland Britain, and a nip in the recently refurbished Preston branch tucked down Main Sprit Weind suggests this North West success story has largely been based on that original template.
Largely. The obvious arrival of big business and handsome profits (the chain was bought out for £42.5m in 2006, an incredible decade’s business) has seen them cut loose on fixtures and fittings – wide squashy booths and various artfully mismatched minimalist tables and chairs abound – but it remains largely unsnazzy.
Food and drink is similarly the same only slightly different.
Cold bottles – from US pale ales to Italian lager with a few brown beers – are now numerous enough to merit their own menu, and the vodka range and preparations thereof has also expanded.
Most changed, perhaps, is the offered eats. Still mainly meaty, hearty nosh, just substantially better choice, different flavours (drawing inspiration, a helpful lad on the bar revealed, from the hugely enjoyable televised heart attack by proxy fest that is Man vs Food. Pulled pork. Lots of pulled pork. BIG burgers. And chipotle.
A carefully managed evolution that should ensure the continued success of the Revolution.