Doghouse Bar and 212 Cafe Bar reopen in Leeds city centre

The team behind two Leeds city centre bars have begun to welcome back customers, with the focus on offering a relaxing experience for those calling in for food and drinks.

Saturday, 11th July 2020, 4:50 pm
Updated Saturday, 11th July 2020, 4:56 pm

While a number of venues have brought in booking systems, reservation fees or time limits on tables, Doghouse Bar in Kirkgate and 212 Cafe Bar in Brewery Place have gone for a first come, first served approach.

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And regulars heading back there will find a fresh new feel thanks to the temporary closure in recent months giving both bars an opportunity for a refurbishment.

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Stuart Dixon cleaning up at the Doghouse Bar in Leeds. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Co-owner Stuart Dixon said: "We've spruced the place up before but never done a great deal. We used the time we were closed to do stuff like sanding all the floors down, rather than shut the bars further down the line and we got working to get ready for reopening.

"They totally smell cleaner! You don't realise at the time how it smells of spilled, stale beer. Everything is sparkling clean."

Given their city centre locations, the team decided against trying out takeaway or delivery options while they were unable to trade as normal.

Staff were furloughed instead, with supportive landlords at both sites also showing flexibility when it comes to paying rent.

The Welcome Back to Leeds website features advice on what shops are open, where to park and more.

"We'd just like to say thank you to the people who supported us through these times," Stuart said. "We have got a lot of friends and people who we'd class as family who have helped us.

"People have come in and carried on drinking since we reopened. We want to say thank you to everyone."

Those visiting either of the bars now will find steps being taken to help people socially distance, such as the layout of tables and chairs being rearranged.

With a move to table service, the venues have decided against screens at the bar or visors for staff that some people might find off-putting.

"We said to our managers, if you want to wear masks then it's up to you," Stuart said.

"We're doing table service only, we come over to serve you. We've made it a bit more European."

There is no requirement to book in advance, although customers who do want to reserve a table can still call ahead as in pre-lockdown days.

Stuart said: "If somebody messages us on social media for a table of four then we would book it for them. There's no timescale on tables, as long as you're drinking. We just want to let everybody relax."

Welcome back to Leeds is an info hub designed to help guide you safely back to the city centre in the months ahead. #backtoleeds

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