Fresh start is on the menu for ex-Leeds city centre restaurant

Have your say

A fresh start is on the menu for a site that was home to one of the highest-profile restaurant business failures in Leeds in recent times.

An application has been submitted to Leeds City Council for permission to change the former Create restaurant on King Street into a bar, it emerged today.

The man behind the plan for the site is publican Geoff Thornton, who already runs The Pour House and the Epernay champagne bar in Leeds city centre.

He says the new venue will be called The Atlas and will operate as a gastro-pub.

Mr Thornton told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “This isn’t going to be anything revolutionary - quite simply, it will be a London-style pub serving quality food and drink.

“Businesses in the [nearby] Park Square area don’t seem to have a licensed premises that caters for them and we want this one to do that.

“People working in the area may not have time to go out for a three-course meal but hopefully they will be happy to pop in and try what we have to offer.”

Mr Thornton said the new bar’s scheduled opening date was November 25.

Create was set up as a social enterprise in 2007 to provide disadvantaged people with work and training opportunities in the food industry.

Praised by Prime Minister David Cameron, it opened its flagship King Street restaurant in 2011 and enjoyed widespread support from the city’s business community.

The venue won rave reviews – but in February this year the restaurant closed its doors, citing “tough commercial realities”.

The YEP subsequently revealed that Create had run up losses of nearly £1m in the space of less than 18 months.

It also emerged that the firm had been granted around £85,000 rate relief by Leeds City Council on King Street and other premises.

The firm’s founder and chief executive Sarah Dunwell – a one-time businesswoman of the year – stepped down in March.

Insolvency experts IPD said in May that the firm had simply “run out of money”.

Mr Thornton’s Pour House venue is at Canal Wharf on Water Lane while Epernay is on Great George Street.

Create continues to operate a cafe in the Wakefield One building.