Jazz and artisans take centre stage at Wirral venue

Co-founder of Tallulah’s Emporium, Wayne Saunders, tells LBN how the venue is bringing music, arts, crafts, artisan food and a live jazz revival to one corner of Wirral. Tony McDonough reports

Wayne Saunders
Wayne Saunders, co-founder of Tallulah’s Emporium in New Brighton


Two experienced club and bar entrepreneurs have created a quirky venue in Wirral that is offering live jazz, blues, artisan food, arts and crafts.

Tallulah’s Emporium in Victoria Road in New Brighton has opened on the same site as the former Tallulah’s Bar, which closed almost a decade ago. The two businesses are not connected.

Wayne Saunders, a Wirral native who ran bars and clubs in London for more than 25 years, and Claire Davies, a stalwart of the Liverpool club scene, opened Tallulah’s Emporium in early December 2022.

According to Wayne, the chilled vibe of the new Tallulah’s has already attracted a local loyal customer base, mainly in the 45 and upwards age group. Now he wants to get the word out to the rest of Wirral and is keen to spark a live jazz revival on the peninsula.

He told LBN: “So we have gone down this route of analogue old sound system, vintage hi-fi, very much vinyl-led. And with a combination of live performances from local artists, staying true to the kind of jazz funk ethos of the place.

“We have managed to develop a lovely live jazz night every Thursday and on Sundays we do more blues-type acoustic stuff. Myself and some friends are spinning some vinyl sessions in between. It has gone down really well.

“We opened up in early December. So we managed to get a bit of that Christmas trade. We didn’t want to launch in January. We made a few friends and brought in a few new customers over that period. And January was tough but it wasn’t as hard as feared.

“We have called it an emporium because we also have lots of different local artisans, crafters and artists and makers and bakers. There is art for sale on the walls, we have bakers and charcuterie products. All the food is locally sourced.”

Wayne moved to London in the 1990s and cut his teeth in the capital’s club and live music scene. Claire was involved in legendary Liverpool venues such as Garlands, The State and the 051 club.

“I ran a comedy club in Shoreditch for 12 years and then I ran a beautiful venue in Brixton for nine years called the Prince of Wales,” said Wayne. “We set up a festival there that is still going. It was a pub and a nightclub and a roof terrace.

“We had some legendary parties on the roof terrace with people such as Giles Peterson and Craig Charles – it was beautiful.

“In 2013, we launched a jazz night in Brixton every Thursday and it became one of the best jazz nights in London. That was one of my favourite achievements. I have a real love for jazz and that is why I am so keen to push that groove here.”

He was involved with the opening of another club in Croydon in 2019 but in early 2020 the COVID pandemic hit the hospitality sector like a tsunami. Wayne decided to relocate back to Wirral.

At first he started working with another local hospitality entrepreneur, Daniel Davies, who has gone on a one-man mission to revive the hospitality scene in New Brighton and Wallasey.

The Tallulah’s site was part of Daniel’s plan for the area that he had not yet got around to. Wayne persuaded him to let him take on the site and invest in opening a new venue.

“Dan had plans for it but he has a lot of other projects on the go. I helped with some community stuff and licensing things.

“I did a deal and said ‘we’ll invest the cash to get the building back up to scratch’. And that is what we have done. We have given it a beautiful refurb.

“Myself and Claire both came from high volume club backgrounds. But neither of us wanted to get back into that.

“We wanted to stay in the hospitality business but not do volume venues or nightclubs. We wanted to do something a little closer to our hearts, really.”

Tallulah’s Emporium is almost like two venues. There is a cafe and shop during the day which then flips into a bar/lounge and performance space in the evenings.

“It always takes a while, I think, for people to grasp what it is you are trying to do,” explained Wayne. “Considering we are only a few months in, we have made a lot of friends and it has been really lovely.

“And we seem to have found a 45-plus crowd, all the way to 80, and they love the vinyl idea and all the crafts, the art and the food. They have been really lovely and loyal.

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“It is not a hip new Instagram venue. It is a grown-up bar for locals who like the music, the crafts and the whole community idea. It has not been a bad start. We also have a bit of an outdoor area for the warmer weather.

“Since I have been back a couple of years I have met some of the local artisans at the Woodside Market. There is a real passion and energy down there now. There are some traders from there who have done pop-ups here.”


Tallulah's Emporium
Tallulah’s Emporium opened in New Brighton in December 2022
Tallulah's Emporium
Wayne is keen for Tallulah’s Emporium to be a leading jazz venue
Forager's Fancy
Danny Moore of Forager’s Fancy has seen his produce sold at Tallulah’s. Picture by Tony McDonough


They include Danny Moore who runs a Wirral business called Forager’s Fancy. He forages for wild ingredients and turns them into foodstuffs and drinks. Tallulah’s Emporium sells his range of spirits.

“We feature Dan’s spirits in our cocktails range. It is great that we have all formed this community and we are all supporting each other,” added Wayne.

Of course, Wayne’s big passion is live jazz. He is keen to inject new life into Wirral’s jazz scene which has been in decline for some years. His plan is for Tallulah’s Emporium to be a showcase for up and coming artists.

He said: “What we need to do now that we are established is to be found by people across the Wirral. It would be great if we could really reach a wider audience. So many jazz clubs are closing and we want to be a place where performers can play regularly in Wirral.

“We are committed to a jazz offering and we are open to new artists coming to play here. And we want people across the Wirral to come and find us.

“The first few months it is about finding your feet. We have evolved but I think we are figuring it out now and responding to what people want locally. 

“Like any business we need to become a bit of a destination. Yes, we want the locals coming in but we also want to attract people from further afield. It is about amplifying the message as far and wide as possible.”

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