City Buzz: New pool bar Slate set to open in Leeds city centre

The Lounge, Merrion Street, which could soon become a pool bar.

The Lounge, Merrion Street, which could soon become a pool bar.

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It was just a matter of months ago that we were all mourning the loss of one of the city centre’s old favourites.

The Lounge on Merrion Street closed its doors earlier this year, and with summer just around the corner we were starting to panic at the thought of losing another city centre sun terrace.

But it sounds like the venue could get a revamp before the weather picks up.

City Buzz can exclusively reveal that The Lounge site is being taken over by the people behind Roxy Ballroom – and they plan to transform it into a dedicated pool bar called Slate.

The proposals could see the venue totally stripped back, with red brick walls, slate floors and several pool tables, and perhaps some outdoor games to entertain punters.

Matt Jones, managing director at the Jones Bar Group, told us that Slate could be open by mid-June.

“The Lounge has been the same for about 15 years so we want to strip a lot of stuff back,” he said.

“It will have a Victorian feel to fit in with the building and is completely different to our other ventures so far. The name obviously makes reference to the pool table slates and it’s going to have seven pool tables.

“There won’t be any TV screens so it’s not a sports bar – it’ll be like Elbow Room.

“There is a two-floor bar and it has three outside areas.”

With the closure of Elbow Room this year, there’s certainly a gap in the market.

It sounds like a big project to take on but we’re in safe hands.

Leeds brothers Matt, 34, and Ben, 29, are behind the Jones Bar Group, which is looking to take on the venue.

Slate would be the eighth addition to their portfolio, which already includes Roxy Lanes, Brooklyn Bar and LAB. The pair have been in business together for 10 years and hope to see Slate open before Ben’s 30th birthday in June.

After Roxy Golf opened its doors, we said there was bound to be more activity-themed bars popping up in Leeds. And that’s certainly the case.

“It’s a trend that has come back around and by introducing an activity, it adds that third element of surprise and another reason to go somewhere,” Matt adds.

“It’s hard to compete on food and drink alone.”

Speaking of which, the drinks menu will include cocktails, real ales, beer and wine, and the food will be similar to the offering at LAB, with pizzas and meat boards.

Despite working hard on Slate, the Jones brothers don’t plan on stopping there.

The Roxy brand is by far their most fruitful concept and they are keen to take it elsewhere, possibly branching out in Manchester or another city before rolling it out.

But for now, this new addition to Leeds is one more reason why Merrion Street and the Northern Quarter will continue to thrive.

Matt added: “This area is the best place to go out in Leeds at the moment. Call Lane is still hugely busy with tourists and out-of-towners but the Northern Quarter is very much Leeds people.

“You can feel a sense of independence up there and a lot of the operators are independent businesses.”

The question now on everyone’s lips is who will take over one of the last remaining spots on Merrion Street – the former Mayaimi club opposite The Lounge.

Just watch this space.