A long time ago, Leeds only had greasy spoon-type cafés , dodgy pubs, and the odd decent Italian, and that was about that.
Then came Arts Cafe down on Call Lane.
It served good food, good coffee, good wine, and a few decent bottled beers.
It was a little bit – dare I say it – European.
And people liked it. They liked it very much indeed.
Other places like it started to spring up, and Leeds began to develop a proper, grown-up restaurant and café scene. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Arts had a profound influence on the way that people eat out in Leeds today. Art’s was then, and it is now, just a lovely place to spend some time.
It was perhaps inevitable that the people behind Art’s would want to spread their wings at some point, and that happened last year with the opening of Shears Yard around the corner on Wharf Street, in the building that housed Livebait in its several incarnations, not that it’s really recognisable as such today. The building has undergone a total refit, stripped back to the bare brick, revealing its former life as a warehouse of some sort, with a waist-high plinth of polished concrete cast against the walls, beams and girders open to the light that floods in through the large skylights. Industrial filament bulbs hang from a cat’s cradle of thick electrical cords, swung from the ceiling like miniature trapeze lines over beech tables and chairs.