Leeds company Escapism Bar Group has added to its successful string of independent bars in the city centre announcing that it has taken over the popular speakeasy The Maven.
Husband and wife team Phil and Mel Harrison already operate six bars – The Mean Eyed Cat and Verve, both on Merrion Street, and Call Lane Social, Tiki Hideaway, Brooklyn, and Cuckoo all on Call Lane. “The Maven is the original speakeasy cocktail bar and is legendary on the Leeds bar scene,” says Phil.
“Its previous owner Nino Lopes is a good friend of ours; he poured a lot of love into The Maven to get it where it is.
When he had to return to his home in Portugal, we were honoured that he entrusted us to continue his good work.”
Hidden behind a discreet doorway and high above Call Lane Street, The Maven opened in 2011 and was an immediate hit, creating 1920s prohibition-style cocktails.
“We will continue to operate The Maven as a speakeasy with the offer of classic drinks, skilled bartenders, and a chilled vibe,” continues Phil. “And we will bring our 15 years’ experience and expertise to help further it.”
More than just a night out, The Maven also offers meeting rooms and event spaces for private bookings as well as masterclasses and tasting events.
“Finding truly unique private hire spaces in the city centre can be tricky, but The Maven is fully geared up to support that and we already have experience of hosting private hire spaces at Cuckoo and Brooklyn.”
Cuckoo opened last November – the sixth venture of Escapism – and is described as a place to escape reality; with rhino and crocodile heads appearing from walls and cupboards, a potting shed that takes visitors to the rooftop gin garden, and a wardrobe that is actually the loo, there is little else with which to compare in Leeds.
Its private hire space ‘The Fairground Rooms’ has waltzer booths, a mass of lights and a spin-the-wheel cocktail menu complete with popcorn and candy floss. With outdoor seating on the popular Call Lane, and an offer of free pizza at key times, Cuckoo has become a destination.
“We like to do things differently – each of our bars has a different approach to hospitality. Our very first bar was The Mean Eyed Cat [formerly Reform] which we opened in 2004 – it’s very much a deep south dive bar where you can expect a shrine to Johnny Cash and Boiler Makers; Brooklyn is quite different in that its music focus is Hip Hop and R&B; Verve offers free live music and comedy, and three of our bars offer free pizza with drinks at key times.”
“We believe going to a bar should be all about escapism and enjoyment; to feel welcome, looked after and at ease whilst having a great time which is why we believe The Maven is a great addition to the Escapism family.”