Nottingham always has been special.
So the Black Orchid had to really turn it on to fit into such a proud city leisure sector; and of course needed the best team of Management, Entertainers, and Security Management to draw people from the existing city centre attractions.
Steve Taylor from the Pink Coconut Derby became as Deputy Manager; Tracey Slade with her invaluable enthusiasm and local knowledge was appointed Assistant Manager; Shanghai Sam`s DJ Mark Jameson headed the entertainment team, former Mr Universe Linkie Wilson became reception manager/head of security.
To complete the team Mike Hilkene enthusiastically agreed to move from Pagoda Park Birmingham to take oversee and guide the business as General Manager.
Probably the most difficult, and pleasurable, tasks was to find a franchisee to run the proposed Cantonese restaurant at balcony level. Some restaurateurs thought we were crazy; some suddenly couldn`t speak English. Others wanted more conditions and safeguards than you could shake a stick at, and effectively wanted the Black Orchid to bankroll the franchise totally. When Ocean City came along everything changed, and it soon became time for –
Signing the restaurant deal at the Black Orchid – and the spirit of Mike Hilkene, who sparkles out of the following pictures –
The first picture below from left to right shows First Leisure MD Tony Spragg, Mike, CY Chung, First Leisure RM Dick Child – and stunt double – Hollywood actor – and franchise manager Nigel Fan.
The Black Orchid layout plan on the table shows some detail of the ground floor, especially the dance floor, entrance way to the right, and the beer cellar underneath the VIP area to the left.
They are about to do the deal – and Mike is pleased – very!
It`s a done deal
Then girls arrive – left to right Margaret Child – Jenny Sprag – Mike`s friend – and it`s time for dinner.
How do you approach a lobster with chopsticks – Mike is not sure – and can you eat both ends?
The two guys who deserve all the credit for the phenomenal success of the first Black Orchid restaurant franchise.
And so the story of the Black Orchid moves on. There is much more to tell, but that will follow at another time. Mike moved into Europe to be Regional Manager for a company called Whitegates, and the indomitable Ian Bomber Harries took over the Orchid.
CY moved out of the franchise to concentrate on a new restaurant called Ocean City 2, based on a Cantonese nouveau theme, then to the famous Pretty Orchid Thai Restaurant in Bridalsmithgate. Tony and Jenny Spragg opened their own business in Spain, while Nigel went to star with Robbie Coltraine in the film “Nuns on the Run”
Sadly, since then we have lost Margaret, Mike and Nigel to the big C.
Bet they had some tales to tell St Peter when they arrived at the pearly gates.
Absolutely wonderful people.