We get the scoop on the Belgrave boys’ newest venue ahead of its opening this Friday
Waterlane Boathouse, Headrow House, Belgrave Music Hall…all hip staples of the Leeds city scene, and all owned by Ashley Kollakowski and Simon Stephens. The duo have been responsible for some serious regeneration in the city over the past decade and, with the announcement of The Beck & Call, they’re taking their talents out to Meanwood.
Formerly known as the True Briton, the large pub in Meanwood marks the duo’s first foray into a more traditional setting, with a family-friendly focus; less DJs and achingly cool club nights, more children’s play and Sunday lunches. Opening just in time for beer garden season, it’s set to be the new go-to for North Leeds residents looking to take things at a slower pace.
Following a soft launch last weekend, The Beck & Call opens officially this Friday (31 May). We sat down with Ashley Kollakowski to find out more…
Congratulations on the new venue - how long has this project been in the works?
We've been looking for new venues for the past two years, in fact we are constantly viewing potential new sites. We saw this last year and talked about it for quite some time before putting in an offer. Simon and I both live within walking distance of the pub and we've always wanted somewhere where we can settle a bit and have something with more of a community spirit.
Let’s talk names - there must surely be a story behind ‘The Beck & Call’?
Well, it was on the list of names Dan came up with and - as it's on Stainbeck Road - we thought it was quite a nice tie-in with Meanwood Beck nearby. Sorry, no real amazing legends to uncover there!
This is your first pub, and you’ve mentioned that a family feel will be at its heart. How will you create a slightly more relaxed atmosphere?
Obviously it will have less of an industrial look to what Belgrave and Headrow House have. There's lots of comfy furniture, two real log fires, nice dark woods, painted wood walls, soft lighting and nice artwork. It's definitely somewhere you'd want to have a pint and read the papers on a Sunday next to a fire with your dog.
One of the biggest selling points of your existing venues is stylish decor. Who have you been working with for The Beck & Call?
It was kind of a tough one. Obviously having a pub you need to be sympathetic to the area and surroundings, so colours have been carefully chosen. With artwork, we started looking at much loved artists from Yorkshire, so my first point of call was Salts Mill where I had my eye on a giant David Hockney exhibition poster from the 80s. That’s going in the Orangerie room, which will have a bit of an art deco feel - lots of plants, 80s prints, marble floor... It sounds really exotic and actually it's probably the most interesting room in the pub.
There's some Barbara Hepworth stuff, Henry Moore posters and a really cool 60s London Underground print, which was found by my friend Becky from Colours May Vary. She also hooked me up with some posters from Peter Mitchell posters, an amazing Leeds-based photographer who has been in the industry for over 40 years.
What can people expect food wise? We’ve heard rumours of bottomless gravy...
Ben Davy, who is behind Ox Club, has put together a great modern British pub menu with new head Chef John Watts. It's all cooked in-house. R&J Butchers in Ripon will supply our meat and our fish will be from Hodgsons in Hartlepool. We're really happy with our fish pie and homemade steak and ale pie especially, also big shout to the Scotch egg - it's a proper banger.
What has been the biggest challenge in the process?
Just getting it open I guess. We've done a lot of projects now and have built a great team with Ben Davy, Dan Crouch, Joe Pinder and everyone else. I'm sure if you ask Joe (the builder) he'll have a different take on the whole thing but, compared to Headrow House, this is a fairly straightforward design project. We had clear ideas before the build and we all agreed on the same look and feel so it's not been a challenge in that respect. The big challenge comes when we open and the public get to have their opinions. That's quite nerve racking. Hopefully people will be happy with what we've done.
The Beck & Call opens fully this Friday (31 May) on Stainbeck Road, LS7 2NP. It will open 11am – 11pm daily
Images: The Beck & Call