Pixel Bar Leeds: Business booming for Leeds gaming bar with Pokemon cocktails and retro consoles

With its retro gaming consoles, throwback tunes and Pokemon-themed cocktails, Pixel Bar is the dream of any 90's kid.

By Abbey Maclure
Sunday, 10th October 2021, 11:45 am

Ranked the number one spot for nightlife on Tripadvisor, the Leeds bar has made a big impression in its two years on Great George Street.

One recent reviewer crowned it the "coolest bar" they'd been to, encouraging feedback for the bar's directors who admit they were taking a big risk in opening such a niche venue.

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Craig Ryan is one of the directors of gaming-themed Pixel Bar (Photo: Gary Longbottom)

“There’s lots of nostalgic kicks for customers," director Craig Ryan told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"We’ve brought in a ‘90s kid’ vibe - from early noughties music to late 90s cartoons and video games that we all loved growing up.

“That appeals not only to our generation but the generation older and younger than us too. Gaming isn’t going anywhere, it’s getting bigger year on year.”

Pixel Bar offers gaming booths with a selection of Xbox and PlayStation games, including Fifa 2021, and high spec PCs which can be rented out from £5 per hour.

With its retro gaming consoles, throwback tunes and Pokemon-themed cocktails, Pixel Bar is the dream of any 90's kid (Photo: Gary Longbottom)

The gaming-themed menu includes signature cocktail 'Who's That Pokemon?', a Vodka Collins-inspired serve with a choice of syrup, garnished with a Pokemon card.

The unique offering has kept customers coming back - and bringing their friends.

“We took a leap of faith, so it was encouraging to have customers respond so well," Craig added.

“We operate on a real independent, shoe-string budget. We don’t have huge advertising campaigns to hit everyone in West Yorkshire.

The gaming-themed menu includes signature cocktail 'Who's That Pokemon?' (Photo: Gary Longbottom)

“But the response has been amazing. Because we’re offering something different, and the way we’re offering it, customers are giving us support without us having to beg for it.

“There needs to be genuine love for customers to tell their friends, leave reviews or go online and talk about us.”

Craig attributes the bar's success to the brains of owner Lee Davies, who has decades of bar experience, and the "naivety" of himself and fellow director Ed Ta which allows them to look at growing the business from a customers' point of view.

They are preparing to open a new, bigger bar in a different city following the success they've had in Leeds, as well as hosting competitive gaming nights which have seen dozens of gamers travel in from across the country.

Pixel Bar was still finding its feet when the pandemic hit, just five months after it opened, but the directors kept faith that their customers would return when restrictions allowed.

People have flocked back to the bar post-lockdown and Craig said there is a new hunger for bars offering more than just beverages.

“I think trends were changing anyway," Craig added.

"Gone are the days where people just want to sit around a table and have a few drinks. In Leeds, and in every city in the UK, you’re seeing beer pong, mini-golf and even go-karting in bars. People want an experience.

“We’ve not got huge infrastructure, it’s just people getting around consoles and having a good time. It’s rolling back the years to when we were kids and we’d meet up at a friend’s house, playing games together.

“Because everything moved online during the pandemic, people are eager to get back out and do things in person again.”

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