Heist Bar and Grill Morley: Meet the owner behind the new Leeds bar that's taken over a former bank

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The last three months have been a whirlwind for this Leeds bar.

Heist Bar & Grill opened in December 2023 in the town of Morley, taking over the former Lloyds bank on Queen Street. 

Behind the bar is Paul Sharman, 56, who decided to venture into the hospitality industry following a conversation with his wife, Michelle. 

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Owners of Heist Bar and Grill, in Morley, Paul and Michelle Sharman with manager Benji Orchard. Photo: Tony JohnsonOwners of Heist Bar and Grill, in Morley, Paul and Michelle Sharman with manager Benji Orchard. Photo: Tony Johnson
Owners of Heist Bar and Grill, in Morley, Paul and Michelle Sharman with manager Benji Orchard. Photo: Tony Johnson | Tony Johnson/National World

Paul said: “We wanted something nice to eat, myself and my wife, one Saturday night. But we couldn’t find anywhere. So she said ‘you need to open a restaurant in Morley’. I said ‘no, but I will open a bar though - that will be fun’.

“And then a month later, we found the premises. Three months later, we opened the doors to the public.

“When we first put it together, we didn't have any plan of the type of customer that we were trying to aim towards. We just wanted to build a bar that we would like to go in. That's how the idea and all the designs came up.”

The inspiration behind the name came from a bank robbery Michelle witnessed a few years ago. And the project of renovating the former bank into a bar of their dreams was not intimidating for Paul, who has years of experience building new homes. 

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Inside Heist Bar & Grill, Morley. Photo: Tony Johnson Inside Heist Bar & Grill, Morley. Photo: Tony Johnson
Inside Heist Bar & Grill, Morley. Photo: Tony Johnson | Tony Johnson

He said: “Nothing like that fears me so I just cracked on with it, got all the traders that I've worked with over the years and brought it all together.

“And then, when we opened, we were absolutely amazed at how old our customers were. There were loads and loads of 70 plus year olds saying we absolutely love it here. No idea how we did that. But we did it.

“After the older customers started coming in - we started off with people in their 70s, 60s 50s 40s - because it's become so popular, we're now getting people in their 20s, as well. 

“They're all in together and all dancing together. You've got 20-year-olds and 60-year-olds dancing together on a Friday and Saturday night. It is brilliant.” 

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While Friday nights and Saturday nights are popular as DJs take over the venue, there is much more available for the people of Morley to get involved with including tribute acts, live music, karaoke and live sport. The bar even hosts a very successful drag brunch monthly. 

Manager Benji Orchard in the photobooth in Heist. Photo: Tony Johnson Manager Benji Orchard in the photobooth in Heist. Photo: Tony Johnson
Manager Benji Orchard in the photobooth in Heist. Photo: Tony Johnson | Tony Johnson/National World

It was important for Paul to open such an inclusive venue in Morley. 

The owner, who also resides in Morley, said: “We thought it's a great location. It's an absolutely beautiful building and we thought it’d make a really nice bar. If we also provide good quality food, we would be giving the people of Morley something different and something that they've been wanting for years.”

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Business development manager Benji Orchard, 27, says the reason the bar has become a huge success is because it has been “ticking all the boxes”. 

He added: “We welcome everybody. We've got disabled access around the back. Everybody's treated the same - we don't care what you look like, your background, your walk of life. Everybody feels welcome when they arrive. 

“And It's a great atmosphere to meet people, have a laugh, and have good, well-priced drinks. Aesthetically as well, it’s well thought-out.

“The biggest part about us is we listen to our customers. If they don't like something, then we change and we make it happen for them.”

In the coming months, Heist hopes to have a kitchen fitted into its premise and begin serving a street food menu. And Paul hopes this venue will be the first of many. 

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