Pecos, a storied 26-year old Bengaluru watering hole which transformed itself into a four-pub chain is going public and will list in the Bombay Stock Exchange. Pecos’ IPO opened on Thursday making it India’s first pub chain to list on the stock exchanges. Aptly, a Bengaluru-based pub is leading the way to the markets, since the city spawned a pub mania in the country in the 1980s.
Pecos launched its first pub in 1989 on Rest House Road, just off Brigade Road, one of Bengaluru’s main downtown streets in the very the start of the city’s IT explosion. It was a tiny, unpretentious, dimly-lit space spread across three floors connected by a winding staircase that should have immediately spelled “Seedy”. Instead, it became a sensation not just for its beer and the grub but also its retro 1960s and 1970s rock music. The city’s young workforce started thronging the old-world pub.
The grungy interiors and modest ambience gave off a relaxed vibe and caught on instantly. “It stood out during the pub boom because there were too many slick places that demanded that you be something else, not yourself,” said Collin Timms, Pecos’ founder and managing director, describing its rise. “Nobody came to Pecos to impress. If somebody wanted to impress their girlfriend, this was not the place to bring her.”
One of Pecos’ selling points besides the draught beer (it serves nothing else) and the reasonably-priced menu items like chilli pork and dosa-prawn curry, was the music it began playing almost by accident. Running the pub meant long, gruelling hours so Timms began carrying his favourite music from home to listen to. The music was a rage with customers who soon demanded that the popular hits of bands such as Grateful Dead, Scorpions and Eric Clapton play all day.
As the story goes, when legendary singer Bob Geldof came to Pecos, the pub respectfully played songs from his band Boomtown Rats, only to be shot down by a customer who didn’t recognize Geldof and asked Timms to “take that rubbish off and play the Scorpions”. “We don’t play pop music because our customers dictate that we don’t,” says Timms.
Joe Stephan, 25, became a Pecos regular during his college days when he came for the music and the affordable food. “I now run my own branding business and can afford fancy places. But I go to Pecos twice a month because it has grown on me,” said Stephan. He said he would buy Pecos shares because it appeared to have a successful business model.
The size of the public offering is small —Rs 2.25 crore — but it has generated much excitement among the legions of Pecos followers. “It is an old pub with so many loyal customers that its stocks will get sold out like its beer and food,” predicted one of its managers, N Vishwanath.
Naresh Kamath, 33, a Bangalore-based insurance services executive, said he has been coming to Pecos every single evening for the last three-and-a-half years.
“I love this place, its ambience, music, beer and stuff.” Kamath comes alone but has a Pecos social circle consisting of other regular hardcore Pecos fans who he has become friends with.
Kamath enjoys the sausages and mashed potatoes alongside his beer while he listens to Dire Straits and Billy Joel. While he himself does not dabble in the stock market, Kamath said he was recommending the IPO to all his friends.
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