Opened in the middle of September, business is booming for this mechanic’s first entertainment venture.
Awais Yasin, 28, from Bradford, teamed up with one of his customers, Norris Royal, 48, originally from Jamaica, to create Bradford’s first and only minigolf course and arcade-style café, Looney Golf.
Looney Golf, which is found at the top of the town, at 33 North Parade, took over the building premise a few months ago after department store Boyes moved locations from the street to inside Kirkgate Shopping Centre.
The business is open from Wednesday to Sunday with two exciting courses, the Neon Jungle, and the Dump Yard. Prices vary depending on peak and off-peak times, but adults can expect to pay between £8.50 and £10 with children’s tickets costing between £7 and £8.50, with concessions made for students, NHS staff, and seniors.
Opening a new business is always risky, with 20% of businesses going bust within one year, and 60% closing within three, but creating one during a global pandemic is even harder.
Despite both Mr Yasin and Mr Royal passionately believing that their idea would work, they still had concerns about launching Looney Golf when there is still Coronavirus cases in Bradford.
Mr Yasin said: “We have sunk everything into this business. We didn’t use any money from grants or the government. Since signing the lease six or seven months ago, we put our heart and soul into Looney Golf to make sure that it would be a success. We created everything in the building, from designing and assembling the courses, to building the café area.
“Covid-19 was our biggest worry since we didn’t know what to expect or whether we would even be able to open.
“We started this business during lockdown in early 2021. It was scary to invest a stupid amount of money that comes from your own back pocket into a new business.
“Your nerves go everywhere when you fork out that kind of money, but we wanted to do it all ourselves. Every day was tough. We used to start work at 10am and finish the next day at two or three in the morning, go home for a quick nap, and then come back for ten – it was extremely exhausting.
“I don’t regret it, though. We thought if we were going to open the business we may as well dedicate all of our time to it, and I’d like to say that hard work pays off.”
Mr Yasin who splits his time between his car garage and Looney Golf said that he “didn’t know how the community would respond” in his first month of business. He said: “This was a new venture for all of us but the community in Bradford has supported us so much, it has been better than expected.
“We have had so many positive comments on social media from customers. We aim to keep all of our customers happy.”
Initial support came from Mr Yasin’s tyre customers as they were the ones who gave him the confidence to try something new. Mr Norris, who has dabbled in the entertainment industry previously, mentioned to Mr Yasin that he wanted to create a new business in Bradford. After talking about it for a few years, they took the plunge and joined forces earlier in the year.
However, the plan wasn’t always minigolf, in fact, they didn’t know what type of business to go into. “We didn’t plan what business we wanted to open, it was more ‘what can we do?’ in terms of budget and experience and that’s how we landed on minigolf.
“Before the pandemic, both myself and Mr Royal would go on work and business trips and end up playing minigolf, which is another reason why we chose it.”
The business has created more than half a dozen jobs for people in Bradford, with both full-time and part-time staff. “We have provided jobs for six or seven people and we are still looking to hire more. We are trying to make Looney Golf work for everybody, for us, for our staff, and the community.”
The number of people going through their doors varies. “The beginning of the week will be quieter”, Mr Yasin says, but on average fifty to sixty people a day play on the courses.
October half-term saw more families through the door as children get to relax and play after their first term back this school year.
“It was really busy through the whole week. We had a half-term discount of 25% for anyone who wanted to play, as well as a Halloween competition where the person who submitted the best picture of their Halloween costume would win a £50 Amazon voucher.”
The business also gives back to the community, offering charities reduced prices for group bookings as well as VIP treatment with the entire venue booked out so that they can play in their bubble.
Improving Bradford’s high street by increasing footfall and attractiveness to the area was also important for Mr Yasin and Mr Norris. Before landing this prime building, they toured several other properties in the city centre. “We thought about opening right in the middle of town, but we decided to opt for the location we are in now because it is not only perfect for us, but we want to make the area vibrant.”