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Kirkstall movie buff opens Leeds’s first movie-themed bar

Lights, camera, action! A Kirkstall film buff has opened the first movie-themed bar in Leeds following a film-like journey through lockdown.

Grindhouse Bar on Upper Briggate is the creation of Kirkstall’s Dave Holmes (founder of Santiago) and Paul Handley, (formerly of Santiago and Mojo).

Work started on the bar in February 2020 and it was due to open in May when lockdown hit. The team continued working on the build and the idea to ensure they could be up and running when restrictions were lifted but everything went on hold until now.

Dave said:

“The plan for Grindhouse was born of a conversation over a few beers.

“I wanted to get another business going and Paul was looking for new opportunities so when the site on Briggate became available, we jumped in.

“We didn’t settle on the film idea to be the first of its kind, it was just something we both wanted to do. We both love film – Paul’s a John Carpenter fan and I love the Zombie genre – it just made sense for us to do it!”

So how did the duo come up with a name for the bar? Dave added:

“We shortlisted a few film-themed names, but Grindhouse was an instant favourite; the history of Grindhouse films and theatres, and the general coffee connection – it feels right.”

Co-owner Paul Handley added:

“The hospitality industry has taken several hits over the last 14 months, and we were no exception.

“It’s been a really difficult, wonderful, challenging, exciting time full of setbacks which slowed us down considerably, even out of lockdown it has affected the build because materials were harder to come by – but we’ve done it and we can’t wait to get started properly.”

The walls of the bar are adorned with movie posters – mainstream, arthouse, and of course grindhouse. The table lamps light up original film cells, there is a large screen showing films on a loop and film soundtracks – popular and less known – play all day.

Food will be served from 9am until 5pm with take-out available. Customers can expect a good selection of meat, vegetarian, and vegan offers, North Star coffees, and a range of teas alongside beers, wines, and cocktails.

The pair intend to use regional produce as much they can currently have relationships with Leeds Markets, North Star Coffee, Northern Monk, and Leeds-based Glazed and Confused Donuts.

But perhaps the Oscar-winning performance comes in the evening when the only food served will be Frito Pie.

“Frito Pie is something I had in Austin Texas and it blew my mind,” Paul says. “It’s just a packet of crisps (‘Fritos’ in Texas), sliced open, add a big dollop of homemade chilli, chopped onions, cheese, and jalapeños – mix it all up and you’re good to go.”

Grindhouse will join a host of independents on Upper Briggate standing proudly between Wax Bar with Sela below it, and North Bar – all popular on the Leeds indie scene.

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