The last twelve months have seen a surge of new restaurant openings, but there are still empty buildings lying around that could be put to use…
With so many new restaurants opening, you’d think we’d be running out of space for new ventures – after all, Leeds has a compact city centre and surely you can only fit so much in. Not so. There are still a number of buildings in Leeds city centre that could be put to better use than their current dilapidated state.
And with the food and drink scene’s recent growth spurt, perhaps some of these little beauties have a slice of potential waiting to be served up…
Dock Street Market
Once upon a time, Dock Street Market was a thriving hub on the South of the River Aire, but now the former café and bar lies empty, wasting its potential. With stunning original features like exposed brickwork and wooden beams, this little hidden gem is ready made for a new Leeds food and drink haven.
La Grillade, Wellington Street
Just a stone’s throw away from Leeds Train Station lies the remains of one of Leeds’ most loved French restaurants – La Grillade. But after its closure amidst a slew of smoke and mirrors earlier in 2014, the basement venue within City Central on Wellington Street, needs some TLC – and a restaurant couldn’t be a better fit to give it new life.
Star and Garter, Call Lane
On the corner of Duncan Street and Call Lane lies probably the most mysteriously disused building in Leeds city centre. It’s been shut since the late 1970s when the former Star and Garter watering hole got itself a bit of bad press, yet the building is in one of the city centre’s most desirable areas. According to Leeds Civic Trust it’s structurally sound so why on earth isn’t it in use?
Upstaged, First White Cloth Hall
It was sad to see Upstaged leave the high street to focus on its online business, but it has left a huge opportunity for those looking to open up a new food and drink venue in Leeds. Sheltered within the historic First White Cloth Hall, with loads of original features, this building is set to be one of the most in demand in the city – and we wouldn’t mind another restaurant in that neck of the woods.
Ace Clothing, Duncan Street
Ace Clothing was a long-lasting Leeds counter-culture gem, but when the death knell tolled in 2012 after 35 years, it left an opportunity for someone else on Duncan Street. A few doors down, Veeno has opened up, proving that the area is ripe for regeneration, so surely this should be snapped up soon, adding another unique eatery to already strong offer?
The Majestic, City Square
A Leeds icon as it welcomes you into the heart of City Square, the Majestic has been patiently biding its time – very patiently – as it undergoes some deserved rejuvenation. Yet as owners Rushbond deliberate about its future use, we can see the potential for The Majestic diversifying its space, and splitting itself up into a leisure destination where a few restaurants and bars could live together in harmony.
It’s odd for Leeds’ busiest street to feature a building left to twiddle its thumbs, yet at the top corner of Briggate, the former home of Muji and Dwell lies forlornly. As it seems, retail isn’t the strongest way forward for the hefty unit, perhaps it’s time it was given a new start with a taste of the continent, which could surely thrive in the centre of town?
Sam’s Chop House, South Parade
Once the home of great British grub, the Pearl Chambers building on South Parade is now empty after the demise of Sam’s Chop House. While it wasn’t for the want of trying, as Sam’s were determined to make it work, they couldn’t last. It’s a shame as the interior matches the classical grandiosity of the exterior and if a restaurant can get the food offering right, then they’ll have quite a gem on their hands.
Oxfam/Ryan Vintage, Call Lane
Formerly home to the city centre’s Oxfam store, this vast curving shopfront on the corner of Duncan Street and Vicar Lane is as big an eyesore as you’ll find in Leeds right now. The Exchange building is quite a looker if you avert your eyes from the ground, and if the shop front and interior were to get similar treatment, it would be a worthy addition to the Leeds’ food and drink scene – and one that’s likely to pull in the punters, with it’s prime position across from Call Lane.
Safari, Assembly Street
Leeds railway arches are a popular haven for food and drink establishments, yet it comes as a surprise that no one’s explored the city’s Safari just yet. Snuck away on Assembly Street, those who ventured to the former club and restaurant know it was hardly the height of sophistication, but it’s handy location means it has huge potential.