'We thought it was the end': How North Brewing Co has bounced back from lockdown thanks to Leeds support
The hum of chatter, people laughing and clinking glasses was sorely missed by the founders of North Brewing Co over lockdowns.
The Leeds brewery's co-founders, John Gyngell and Christian Townsley, had to quickly adapt their business, delivering beer packages across the city.
John and Christian founded North Brewing Co in 2015 after the success of North Bar which opened in 1997 and was a pioneer for craft beer in Britain.
Now, more than two months after reopening their bar group and launching the multi-million pound Springwell site, the pair are finding it difficult to tear themselves away from the buzz that's back in their venues.
“North Brewing Co is all about people," John told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"The people we work with, the people who come to our bars and the people who drink our beer.
“They are integral to everything we do. Everyone who touches the business is hugely important to us all.
“Every day, we look at how we can do things better - what we sell and how we sell it. We don’t stop.”
As the first lockdown cast major fears over the future of the hospitality sector, it was North Brewing Co's loyal customer base that kept the business thriving.
“April and May were horrific," John added.
"We all thought that was the end. But once we knew that wasn’t going to happen, I really enjoyed it.
"It was brilliant to see the team reacting, we had bar staff delivering beers and we set up a website in about five minutes.
"Christian lives in Skipton and was delivering beer on his bike, I was driving round in my van with my son on a Saturday.
"It cemented our position in Leeds and the community.”
With North Bars closed for much of the last 14 months, the extra time allowed John and Christian to pour their attention into opening Springwell, the brewery's multi-million pound new home.
Housed in a former tannery on Buslingthorpe Lane, Sheepscar, the new site is home to the 21,000 square foot brewery, as well as a taproom and events space.
"The opening of Springwell is almost a thank you to our customers," John added.
"We’ve made the space for the community. There’s an incredible atmosphere and it’s been difficult to tear ourselves away.
“The noise of people talking and laughing again and clinking glasses is quite emotional after being silent for 12 months.
“It’s been phenomenal to see people getting straight back in."
Springwell is taking bookings for Euro 2020 games, as well as offering live music, tasty street food from Little Bao Boy ice cream from Northern Bloc.
An upstairs event space will host private parties when restrictions allow and there are plans to expand the terrace.
John added: "We want to say thank you to Leeds for the support we’ve had over the last year, it’s been phenomenal.
"When you knock on someone’s door and they say, I don’t need this beer, but I wanted to buy it from you guys - you feel like giving them a hug or crying.
"Thank you for sticking with us. And thank you for coming back to our bars."
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