Much-loved Leeds city centre restaurant closes its doors

La Grillade. PIC: Steve Riding
La Grillade. PIC: Steve Riding
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A much-loved Leeds fine dining “institution” has closed its doors for the final time.

The city’s oldest French restaurant La Grillade, which was founded in Wellington Street over 30 years ago, had been scheduled to reopen on January 3 but the eatery remained closed yesterday. (Jan 6)

The YEP understands that the basement premises has been vacated and the locks have been changed.

Brought to the city by French-born entrepreneur Guy Martin-Laval under what was then the Wellesley Hotel in 1981, the restaurant became a firm favourite among celebrity diners including Alan Bennett.

Robert Pudney, a landlord of the building which is owned by a property company, told the YEP: “We only became aware of the fact he had ceased trading over the last day or so.

“I have been talking to him over the last few months about possibly helping him maintain the business.

“Like a lot of restaurants in Leeds he’s been struggling and he’s obviously decided to close it for the time being and I don’t know what his future plans are.”

It is thought that people who had made post-Christmas bookings have been informed of the closure in recent days.

Mr Martin-Laval came to Britain in the 1970s after studying agriculture near his native Marseilles.

After working as a travelling champagne salesman he settled in Leeds and opened French restaurant La Grillade 33 years ago.

The eatery quickly became a favourite haunt of the Leeds business community and he opened a larger brasserie in East Parade in 1993 before selling it to City Centre Restaurants and moving back to his original site in the late 1990s.

Mr Pudney said: “It’s a bit of an institution but for whatever reason he’s decided he no longer wants to continue there.”

The businessman also ran a wine bar and restaurant called The Waterhole, in Great George Street, on two separate occasions. The site is now run as Veritas.

The owners of North Street pub The Reliance were among the first to voice their sadness at the news.

They tweeted: “So sad to hear La Grillade has decided to call it a night. So many good times. So many cheese dreams. Good luck all.”