Dave's Pie and Ale House: Meet the owner of the tiny Leeds pub whose lockdown pies 'snowballed' into thriving business

When Dave Knowlson stumbled across an old pie machine in a Calverley reclamation yard, little did he know it would spark a career change - and a thriving new business.

By Abbey Maclure
Sunday, 2nd January 2022, 11:45 am

The former pub manager, who ran The Grove Inn in Holbeck, was familiar with John Hunt Pie Machines after a conversation with a customer years before about their unrivalled pie-making abilities.

After sprucing up the machine, he began to make pies while the pub was shut during lockdown, testing them out on his family, friends and customers.

It was the start of what would become Dave's Pie and Ale House, his micro-pub and bottle shop on Kirkstall Road.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Dave Knowlson is the owner of Dave's Pie and Ale House in Kirkstall Road (Photo: Gary Longbottom)

Dave, 40, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It was for my own sanity while the pub was shut, there was nothing else to do - we were locked in a pub with no beer.

“It was totally innocent, there was nothing in it. I was just a guy in a shut pub knocking out pies.

“It just snowballed into this.”

Read More

Read More
Leeds woman to open £25k dog grooming and day care HQ in Headingley after succes...
Drafting in the support of his best friend Andy Turner (right), who owns Wax Bar in the city centre, Dave snapped up the shop with the help of a post-Covid loan (Photo: Gary Longbottom)

Word quickly spread about Dave's pies and he started running a delivery business during lockdown.

When a vacant shop on Kirkstall Road came up for sale, he absentmindedly messaged the seller on Facebook Marketplace who, to Dave's surprise, came back with a great offer.

Drafting in the support of his best friend Andy Turner, who owns Wax Bar in the city centre, Dave snapped up the shop with the help of a post-Covid loan.

Dave's Pie and Ale House opened last month to a "fantastic" response from customers, who have poured into the micropub.

“It’s so visible on the corner," Dave added.

“Nothing seemed to have lasted and it had grubby white shutters and awful half-finished signage.

“There’s something going on in this area since the Cardigan revamp, there’s lots of little independent shops and it’s a densely populated area."

Dave wanted the micropub to have the look and feel of an old-school boozer, finding furnishings and a reclaimed bar on eBay.

It offers a choice of real ales, as well as a variety of pork pies - pairing pork with chilli, stuffing, stilton and more - as well as a vegetarian option.

"There's such a permanence to a place that has a proper fit-out," Dave said.

“We wanted it to echo a simpler time when there were pubs on the end of the streets round here - an old pub aesthetic.

“There’s only a couple of tables, so people sit round and talk to each other. It’s the antithesis to what you see at a chain.”

The success of his business has come as a surprise to Dave, who never planned his pies to be anything other than a "lockdown side hustle."

He added: “Having your own business is a self-motivator, you’ve got to just get out there and do it.

“It’s the first time I’ve started a business from the ground up and seen it all the way through, there’s a satisfaction in that and a sense of achievement.

“Andy was happy to defer to my vision and keep me in check here and there. Sometimes you need a good pal who can say, ‘no Dave, that’s a daft idea’.”

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.