Ever wondered what it’s like running a massive student bar? Or what the funniest thing that ever happened at Sobar is? Or how much alcohol they get through in a night? The Soton Tab spoke to owners and siblings Becky and Parris to find out.
So who actually owns Sobar- is it true that your entire family run it?
Becky: Well, yes it’s family owned, we both have a stake in the bar, as do our parents. We’re all involved in running it, both day and night.
On an average Tuesday night, how many bottles of vodka would you get through?
Parris: Easily a hundred. Way more actually.
Becky: I don’t quite know, but if we begin to run out then Champagne Charlie’s come round and stock us up, you can often see their little blue van pulled up outside on a big night!
Tell me a little bit about the history of Sobar.
Parris: Well, it used to be called ‘The Study’, and before that, ‘The Albion’. Then a property developer took over and made it into Sobar, and we bought it off of him about six years ago now.
Becky: We used to own a place in the city centre called ‘Chambers’, but they built offices and flats around it so we couldn’t play loud music there anymore so we sold it. It’s now called ‘Marshalls’. Every year actually we always hear rumours that us and Jesters are closing, but we’re one of few places to actually own the building we’re in. So unless, we want it to end, it won’t!
What’s the best thing about working at Sobar?
Becky: The students. Easily. They are what make us as a business and obviously we cater mostly for them, so it’s great to get that interaction with them. Especially now that there are more and more international students, I get to talk to loads of people from all over the world. We also help sponsor societies too, so we like to get involved in the student community as much as possible.
What’s the worst thing about working at Sobar?
Parris and Becky together: Hours.
Becky: We could be up till 4AM in the morning and then having to be up at 9AM to meet suppliers or other people.
Parris: Also, even if we’re not needed in, then we still are on call in case there’s a problem; it can be a bit stressful.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen here? (They took a long pause before answering this one).
Becky: Maybe ‘finding boys in the girls toilets’ or vice versa. We can’t really have that sort of thing happen but it’s funny to laugh at afterwards.
One time a guy came out completely naked and walked straight into a policeman who handed him a fine right there. Don’t really think the kid knew what was going on.
Sometimes I get messages from people saying they’ve been caught on one of our pictures cheating, or even drinking, and wanting it taken down so that their partner or parents don’t see.
Parris: One time, maybe five years ago, these guys somehow got this boat on a trailer to roll the entire way down Bevois Valley Road. One guy was pretending to steer, another was saluting us all as he came down and the other was just necking a bottle of alcohol. They couldn’t drive it but I had to go inside before I could see the end of it. Funniest thing I’ve ever seen out here though.
Becky, you actually used to be a student at the University of Southampton. What was the Student Union’s nightlife like then?
Becky: Back then, there was no such thing as the Cube, and the Bridge is where the “club” was. I can’t remember what it was called but it was not good at all. Jesters was probably the only student place open at the time, everywhere else is really new. That’s why I wanted to take over Sobar, I knew it was a niche in the market that we could exploit.
There’s a big rumour that the SO in Sobar means Student Only. Was that intentional?
Becky: There are actually so many different options, but we’re not going to tell you which one is right! People have asked me if it’s for the Southampton postcode, or a play on sober. There are some others, but it’s a closely guarded secret.
Parris has to go to another meeting with students from Solent, but I had time to ask Becky one last question about her brother’s famous lookalike:
Some suggest that your brother looks a lot like Drake? Do you see it?
Becky: Completely! Even when we’re in the States people come up to him telling him he looks like Drake! Here some people take selfies with him because of it. He got a Drake T-Shirt for Christmas but he refuses to wear it.
Thanks to Becky and Parris for talking to us!
We’ve also interviewed the Sobar legend that is, the toilet attendant! Check it out here.