Roncsbár, Debrecen’s favorite club, opened its doors eight years ago this year. From its non-descript outward appearance, you might be forgiven in thinking that the venue was just another cafe, with no sign of its glorious reputation or its loyal following. A recent interview with Napló magazine gives us an insight into the history and future of the unique bar.
Where did the idea come from to create such a place in the city?
Csaba Bernáth (co-founder): The ruin pub culture started in England about 10 years ago and reached Hungary as well. After Budapest, we wanted to be the first to open such a place. I already had a friendly relationship with Tomi (Tamás Fejes, the drummer of the band “Tankcsapda” and co-founder of Roncsbár). We came to the decision that if we could find a suitable room, we would do it here in Debrecen. It took us half a year to open because of the renovations. Of course, we also needed a very good team, who have been with us ever since. On 13 April 2012, we started with a Magna Cum Laude concert. Tickets were sold out in advance and the pub was full and there has been no stopping ever since!
Eight years have passed since then, but we are still new, fresh, maybe that’s why we have been able to stay successful.
What do you think makes this place so special?
Csaba Bernáth: We both believe that diversity is the key to everything. The decoration, the ideas all come on an ad hoc basis. There was a school in Szabolcs county that was closed down and we bought forty chairs from them right away.
This place can handle everything. Even today, many people come in from the street with the intention of wanting to contribute to the equipment and bring in some interesting, exciting accessories. I could also mention the iconic 491 tram, from which we also got a cut piece. It took us nine o’clock to roll from the entrance to the other side of the nightclub, but it was definitely worth it. The plane on the ceiling, the motorcycle, or perhaps the audience’s favorite tombstone of TV Maci (Hungarian iconic fairytale character) are also worth mentioning. These are all the brainchildren of contributing, creative minds.
Tamás Fejes: We cook from what we have. My wife was involved in the first decoration, but now it’s mostly done by store managers. There is nothing concrete, that is the point. What life brings is what we work with. The point is to be capable of getting renewed constantly.
Many people open a place, and once it is working they don’t make any changes. This is a mistake. That’s why their business fails. We keep inventing new things with the team, week after week, experimenting. Obviously, everything has a shelf life, so we have to move on with the changes, but one thing is for sure: in Debrecen, we are “the ruin pub”.
How is Roncsbár different from other entertainment venues in terms of content?
Tamás Fejes: I traveled the world with the band “Tankcsapda” and I had the good fortune to observe the underground subculture and the various forms of entertainment abroad.
In Debrecen, in many cases, I felt that prudence guided the operators.
People could not have fun in a quiet place, if liberated, in a safe, environment, almost everything could fit. We, on the other hand, were confronted with trends: if someone came to us, they weren’t anxious to have to pose, they could come to talk to friends or rampage at a concert as if they were just having fun in their garden. In addition, from the very beginning, we have placed great emphasis on making ours not only a pub but also a club with live music. We have installed professional sound technology, which attracts a lot of performers and music lovers. We have also received requests to open a “Roncsbár” in other cities of the country, on a franchise basis.
“This place has a soul, the time spent here provides people with the feeling of life, and for us, it is the most important thing.”
In terms of events, our initiatives called “Tivornya” and “Outdoor Disco” attract almost all age groups. Acoustic concerts and retro performances are also available. It is also a good example of the color and variety that characterizes us. Everyone, regardless of genre, has already performed with us from a metal band to light music ensembles.
What are your favorite experiences and/or best moments so far?
Tamás Fejes: The biggest success for me was when the bass guitarist of Guns N ’Roses performed with Walking Papers in 2014. It is a real moral triumph to have Duff McKagan performing in a ruin pub and in such a small city. You can encourage everyone to achieve the greatest things with the right organization and attention. However, I could mention many more successful events.
Csaba Bernáth: For me, the biggest success is not really a concrete concert. Rather, even in the current situation, we are receiving many messages asking when we will be open and when we will have events again. We managed to create a regular customer base, which I am very happy about. Tourist groups come on a monthly basis. A French TV channel has made shots here, and we have already appeared in diverse magazines and on CNN Travel. Countless wedding photos and even clip shots have already taken place here. If I count, there were only 710 concerts in the eight years.
After the coronavirus subsides, what are the prospects for the future of the bar?
Tamás Fejes: If we got a permit, we could double the capacity of the place, because the demand for it is high. Fortunately, Roncsbár has not only a past but also a present and a future. Of course, we would certainly not take it elsewhere, it works well locally here. Many people don’t like it, but I think that being successful in Hungary’s second-largest city for eight years cannot be a coincidence. We put a lot of time and energy into staying functional, and anyone has the change to do the same. Anyone who just “follows” the changes, will always remain a loser.
A city needs to have colorful, fun nightlife places where people can feel safe.
If a larger band plays here as well, – if people get the high quality here as well that they can see in other countries they will not move away. We not only want to attract but to keep our guests here.
Csaba Bernáth: We have an airport with many destinations, we have a developing economy and we have a university with foreign students. This diverse, lively environment requires colorful hospitality. From safety technology to service personnel, we strive for the best possible quality, and we introduce environmentally conscious innovations for a green future. In a word, we’re getting ready to continue and stay with the usual, exciting Roncsbár.