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Carl Froch on His New Bar Alto (The Owd Saltwater)

15 August 18 words: Ash Carter

Having hung up his gloves in 2015, four-time world champion boxer and Nottingham bloke Carl Froch has turned his sights to his new bar, Alto. The recently refurbished venue can be found in the Cornerhouse; in Saltwater’s previous spot. We belled up owd Punchy to ask a few questions about the new gaff...

Bar co-owners Rebecca Brough, Marc Brough, Carl Froch and his wife Rachael Cordingley

“It was inspired by the times when me, my wife Rachael and my mates would go out in town and be stuck with where to go,” says Froch. “It’s ok around Hockley. There’s a few nice bars, but you always end up in the same place. I’ve been to Liverpool and Manchester and had fantastic nights out, and I wanted somewhere in Nottingham where you could do the same. A venue where there’s no trouble, a nice classy clientele and a stress free, easy night out that just flows.  And we’ve got that kind of ambience with Alto: it has a light, bright, contemporary feel. And we’ve got a late license until 2am, so you can have a drink, listen to some music from our live DJ and just enjoy yourself until the early hours.”

As with the previous bar, Alto boasts one of the best views of the city with its outdoor terrace. “That’s where the name Alto comes from, it’s Italian for altitude or high,” the former super-middleweight tells us. “Obviously we need the weather, but we have got umbrellas and heaters for the winter. When the weather’s nice, it’s bang on. I was sitting out there the other night; even though I spent most of my time taking selfies with the customers, I still enjoyed it.”

This isn’t Froch’s first foray into the pub game, and this time round he is keen to take less of a hands-on role with the day-to-day running of the venue: “I grew up in pubs, and I’m quite business-minded. I’ve had a few bars in the city before, but this building came up and I just thought that it was the best space in Nottingham, just for the sheer size of the place. I’ve run bars before, I’ve worked in kitchens, and I used to do the cellar work and the books. I haven’t got time for that anymore. I’m not in the position to run the bar on a day-to-day basis, but I’m an investor. I play poker professionally and I work for Sky Sports as a boxing analyst and commentator. But I’ve been investing in properties for well over twenty years, having bought my first house when I was nineteen. So with all of that and my three kids, I’m quite busy.”

Froch is joined in the venture by two friends, who will help run the bar: “Marc Brough, who I’ve worked with before on some commercial properties, and has a great mind for making businesses work and making money; and John Glover, who has thirty years’ experience in the pub trade, having set up and franchised the Walkabout bars. So we’ve got John’s experience, Marc’s business mind and my celebrity status and presence in Nottingham; I sprinkle a bit of stardust on it as well.”

Froch is taking the same approach he applied to the world of boxing to his business life: “Boxing is something I’ve done since I was eight years old and I was quite good at it. I was very confident, especially after I started winning titles,” he says. “If you do something you enjoy, it doesn’t feel like a job, you just get stuck in. I was very successful for many years, and was able to retire on my terms. There was a lot of pressure, training and hard graft, but that goes with anything. The one thing that all the successful people I know have in common is hard work and a good attitude. If you’re a positive individual and you put the time and effort in, nine and a half times out of ten you’ll get the results that you want. That’s the attitude I had when I was boxing, that’s the attitude I have when I’m playing my brother at tennis or my son Rocco at golf, and that’s the attitude I’m bringing to Alto.”

“I just want to be the best I can be at everything I do. I don’t like to call myself lucky, because I worked hard. You know, it’s no coincidence that in boxing, like anything you do in life, the harder you work, the luckier you get,” Froch said. “It’s important that the bar does well and it’s important that it’s successful, because my reputation is on the line. That means that we’re vigilant, we’re strict in monitoring people as they come in. The doormen know the requirements for entry. It’s the same as any bar in town, we don’t want any agro or any riff-raff in there, we just want a good quality clientele who just want to enjoy themselves.”

The recent opening gave patrons the chance to catch up with some of Froch’s celebrity friends, which is something he’d like to continue in the future: “Opening night was brilliant.  It was invite-only, and there were about 700 people there. It ran really smoothly and couldn’t have gone better. A few of my friends from Love Island turned up and I’ll definitely be inviting a few more familiar faces over in the coming months. David Haye and Tony Bellew will be there, some footballers from Nottingham Forest and we’re planning a meet and greet with Ant Middleton. I’m hoping to get Anthony Joshua down there after his fight against Alexander Povetkin. But he’s a big name, so we’re hoping to get him in under the radar. He’s such a big star now you’ve got to be a bit careful where you take him.”

If Alto proves to be a success in Nottingham, Froch sees potential for it to branch out into a franchise: “We’ve got a business plan in place with the concept and eventually it’s going to run itself. So hopefully we can open Altos up and down the country. That’s what John Glover did with Walkabout bar, so there’s no reason it can’t be done with this. This place is running nicely and doing well. It’s washing its face, as we say in the business, plus making us a slight uplift, which is good. Hopefully in the next few years it will build up to a place that can branch out and provide happiness and nice evenings for many people, but it’s one step at a time.”

Alto, The Cornerhouse, Burton Street, NG1 4DB

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