High fliers swoop in to transform Leeds nightspot

The Black Swan owners Si Ord and Shane Quigley
The Black Swan owners Si Ord and Shane Quigley
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Two Leeds entrepreneurs have joined forces to transform a Call Lane bar into a traditional pub with a 21st century twist.

Leeds publican Si Ord, the man behind the city’s hugely-popular Sandinista and Smokestack, has joined forces with Shane Quigley, co-founder of digital marketing agency Epiphany Solutions, which was sold earlier this year for £18m.

The successful duo, who have spent around £300,000 on turning the old BRB nightspot into The Black Swan, have also brought in Anthony Flinn as consultant chef.

And the venue now boasts a film room, which they’ve dubbed “Leeds’ smallest cinema”.

In an area renowned for its late-night weekend drinking, the pair hope the pub will act as a community hub for friends, workers and visitors throughout the week, day and night.

Si, who also runs Sandinista in Manchester and recently added Blind Tyger to his stable of Leeds venues, said: “Call Lane is such a hive of activity in Leeds – a go-to destination for Leeds locals and tourists alike.

“However, we’re really keen to break the mould with The Black Swan, making it somewhere not just for late-night sessions, but an afternoon chin-wag, great ales and the best Sunday roast in town.

“Think of the community feel of a local pub and add a little modern twist – original cocktails, sourdough pizza, great coffee.”

Shane said when the three-storey, 450-person capacity venue went on sale they swooped in.

“We said let’s re-imagine what makes a pub great and put it in the middle of Call Lane.”

So they looked to both the past and future for inspiration – with influences including a 1946 essay by George Orwell, listing features he believed made a pub great.

Shane said: “Every decision we made, we said what would a traditional pub do and how do we modernise that and take it to the next level?”

Among its principles is the time-honoured custom of staff knowing patrons’ names and preferred tipples. A 21st century feature is that customers can grab food and drink to take-away. The menu, overseen by Flinn, of food business Darkside Consultants, features the Yorkshire-sourced pub grub while promising to “challenge perceptions of pub food”.

Even its name is a nod to both past and future – recalling the building’s earlier incarnation as The White Swan and referencing the Black Swan theory, used to describe events that are both unforseen and influential.

BRB regulars will be pleased to know the pair have kept the pizza oven.

They have also installed a second kitchen, created a garden terrace and added lots of extra seating, setting it apart from the usual Call Lane “vertical drinking” haunts.

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