WHEN was the last time you ventured down to the Dark Arches in Leeds?
You may have walked down to the south side of the city for a pint at The Hop, a meal at Fazenda or a swanky cocktail at Bilbao or Sky Bar.
But it’s hard to shake the feeling that, despite many a brave attempt to inject a bit more life into the area, Leeds’s waterfront is still tragically under-used – especially when we get a bit of sunshine.
That could be finally about to change though, with a few exciting projects going on that City Buzz feels confident will bring a few more people down to the riverside.
Firstly, there’s Candlebar.
The new venue in the well-known Candle House building at Granary Wharf is set to open in just a couple of weeks.
The ground floor site has had a huge £300,000 investment by Ossett Brewery – the company behind The Hop, which is just a stone’s throw away.
Managing director at Ossett Brewery, Jamie Lawson, said he has faith that the area will soon come into its own.
Speaking to City Buzz, he said: “I see Granary Wharf as the next big thing in Leeds.
“The area already hosts some of the best bars and restaurants in Leeds alongside the Double Tree Hilton Hotel.”
He added: “[Candlebar] is totally different and we can’t wait for others to experience it.”
The new bar will create 15 jobs and opens on Friday, April 24. It will serve classic cocktails, 14 craft beers from around the world and 20 different wines by the glass.
The wine will be served via ‘enomatic preservation machines’ (or fancy mechanical wine dispensers, to you and I).
Visitors can also sink their teeth into rustic pizzas from an Italian wood-fired oven, as well as gourmet sharing boards and salads.
The owners hope to create a venue with a modern feel and some Yorkshire chic to boot, which sounds right up our street.
There will also be a waterside seating area outside, with views over the Leeds-Liverpool canal.
Wine fans will also be pleased to hear it bar will feature 12 new wines every month, each time focussing on a particular region.
Each wine will be paired with the food menu and salads.
The attention to detail like this is often the difference between a venue that dies and one that thrives.
And there’s more exciting plans in the pipeline for the area too.
Leeds Station’s shiny new £17.3million South Exit scheme on Granary Wharf’s doorstep opens in the autumn and will provide a state-of-the-art entrance for commuters and visitors – meaning thousands more punters for bars and restaurants down that way.
Councillors are also set to give the go ahead to a £500,000 plan to pedestrianise nearby Little Neville Street.
It’s a small area to the back of the Hilton Hotel but put into context with the new station and bars, this could all work together to give this little area of Leeds a well-deserved boost.
Leeds’s South Bank, which stretches from Holbeck urban village to Leeds Dock, has also had help in the transportation department thanks to the water taxis that run regularly between Granary Wharf and Leeds Dock.
Let’s hope all these improvements will make a splash and help this side of the city stay afloat.