City Buzz: Leeds chef to open new cocktail bar and restaurant at former lapdancing club

Vice and Virtue will open at New Briggate, at the former Black Diamond Gentlemen's Club. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Vice and Virtue will open at New Briggate, at the former Black Diamond Gentlemen's Club. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
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THE city’s thriving Northern Quarter is set to welcome another new venue to its already impressive line-up.

City Buzz can reveal that Vice and Virtue will soon open on New Briggate – opposite Belgrave Music Hall.

Dough Bistro has picked up several YEP Oliver Awards over the years.

Dough Bistro has picked up several YEP Oliver Awards over the years.

Following in the footsteps of the likes of Shuffledog, The Brunswick and Bar Soba, the venue will be the latest addition to join the north side of the city centre.

The cocktail bar and fine dining restaurant will take over the former Henley’s Sports Bar site, which was previously the Black Diamond gentlemen’s club.

Despite its somewhat questionable past, the man behind the new venture isn’t fazed and is looking forward to building on what’s been before.

Owner Luke Downing said: “Rather than run away from the fact it was a gentlemen’s club, we’ve embraced some small elements of it,” he explains.

Luke Downing, pictured centre, at the Oliver Awards in 2013 with the YEP's Jayne Dawson and host Jon Hammond. Dough Bistro won the award for Best Suburban Restaurant.

Luke Downing, pictured centre, at the Oliver Awards in 2013 with the YEP's Jayne Dawson and host Jon Hammond. Dough Bistro won the award for Best Suburban Restaurant.

“Take the name, for example. ‘Vice’ is from how the building once was and the ‘virtue’ is the direction we’ll be taking it in.

“We’ll be starting from scratch though, and every single wire is being ripped out.

“It won’t look anything like what it was before – and there will definitely not be any poles!”

Leeds chef and entrepreneur Luke plans to transform the New Briggate venue into a ground floor bar with a 1940s Moulin Rouge-type, art deco feel.

The New Briggate site was previously Henley's Sports Bar, which closed earlier this year. Picture: James Hardisty.

The New Briggate site was previously Henley's Sports Bar, which closed earlier this year. Picture: James Hardisty.

The cocktail menu will be concise with up to 10 bespoke creations. But it’s quality over quantity as most of the ingredients will be homemade – from pistachio milk and rose foam to dandelion honey.

Luke is also bringing on board Mat Atkinson, who previously worked at The Maven.

Upstairs will be a fine dining restaurant serving a tasting menu or small plates for those wanting to share.

The bar is due to open on Saturday, November 28, with the restaurant expected to launch in March 2016.

It’s the third venture for Luke, who is also behind Dough Bistro in West Park.

Despite starting out with no chef experience or qualifications in the industry, Luke packed in his job as a ski instructor and followed his passion for food – taking on the restaurant on Spen Lane.

Nine years later, he has won several YEP Oliver Awards and has also taken over Nineteen Bar and Grill at Leeds Golf Centre.

“It was a complete change from what I was doing before, but I am really passionate about food and drink,” he explains.

“I knew I was never destined for an office job.”

Luke has been patiently for years for the perfect moment to invest in a city centre site.

The 34-year-old from Roundhay said: “The cocktail industry has been pulled forward in Leeds recently and it can now give London a run for its money.

“This is the right time to make a move.”

He added: “This is the last venue right in the centre of this developing part of town.

“We will be surrounded by absolutely amazing places but there is no fine dining around there.

“I don’t think the city centre has anything like what we are planning.”

With the Northern Quarter becoming a hub for young professionals looking for a fun night out, we’re sure Luke’s latest venture will prove another hit.

Luke Stevens

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