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Hearing Hospitality: Lisa, Owner of The Exhibit Balham

Hearing Hospitality: Lisa, Owner of The Exhibit Balham

Established over 20 years ago, The Exhibit has long provided Balham residents with a place to connect with friends and family. Whilst fundamentally bar-oriented, the venue also has a great space to host events, classes, live performances and their famous bottomless brunch at weekends!

However, lockdown has interrupted the businesses’ trading facilities. We spoke to The Exhibit's owner, Lisa, who told us about the challenges faced by hospitality as well as survival prospects for the late-night economy trade.

“Financially, sale targets dramatically dropped in February 2020 and worsened as lockdown became enforced. Our business saw some recovery in the July/August period with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which saw a great amount of support from the community and brought in new customers. But the re-emergence for trade was short-lived and the September/October months brought a devastating blow to the industry - December being the most hurtful of them all.

"The lockdowns have been brutal. My business has lost hundreds of thousands and accrued masses amounts of debt. To cover the costs of refurbishments made whilst the venue was closed and which unfortunately can't now be enjoyed, I have used my own savings to ensure the business survives and that my staff are well looked after.

“Another major blow causing more injury to the business has been the distribution of grants. A venue of our size didn't qualify for the early grants and we’ve consequently significantly suffered. Rents, especially in this climate, are the most crippling economic issue businesses like mine have to deal with and luckily we have a lovely landlord who is incredibly understanding and patient. But the same cannot be said for other owners – I’m aware of many businesses going into administration and it’s devastating to see.

“Knowing what the situation for hospitality businesses will be in a post-lockdown world is hard to predict. A big concern of mine is the prospect for the late-night economy trade. The Exhibit is a drinks-led venue and I have doubts about the footfall in the late night/early morning trading hours which the business is well-known for.

"Whatever the outcome, I’m ready to defend my business! I welcome the inevitable challenges and hope that I can trade in some capacity or another. I’m keen to show that hospitality venues can operate safely and simply want to re-open to the public, to share our love of food, drink and community.”

Thanks to Lisa for sharing how her business is faring at this time. 

Located at 12 Balham Station Road since 2000, The Exhibit provides a multi-purpose space for all types of celebrations and occasions. More on their website at

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