New bar to open in Lancaster city centre this weekend is 'pure passion project'

A new bar with a special meaning behind its concept and name opens in Lancaster this weekend.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 3:45 pm

Jimmy's Taphouse opens in a former gym premises in Slip Inn Lane, with an aim of bringing something a little different to the city centre.

Bosses hope the bar will have a vibe similar to that of bars in areas such as Manchester's Northern Quarter and Shoreditch in London, combining craft ale with good conversation and much more.

Gruffydd Morris, managing director of Winchester Inns Limited, who will operate the new venue, said the idea came about after chatting with his late friend Brendan Stuart about other pubs in the city.

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Dave and Gruff at Jimmy's Taphouse in Lancaster. Photo by Neil Cross

"We used to go around Lancaster to various places and observe them while having a drink, and we watched various venues close down over the years," he said.

"We put our heads together to try to figure out what was wrong and why places were closing - what the lack of appeal was.

"We put a business plan together but then unfortunately Brendan passed away at the end of 2018 so it was all put on ice for a while."

The following year Gruff joined forces with local publican Dave McIntyre to continue the plans - but then Covid hit.

Jimmy at Jimmy's Taphouse in Lancaster, which has been named after him. Photo by Neil Cross

"Once things started easing in March this year we looked at a place in Chapel Street, but there were too many residents in the area so we didn't get the licence," Gruff said.

"It all went back on ice until another venue came up and in September we saw the former Gymphobics was available, and we managed to get the lease on it and then the change of use."

Things have progressed quickly and the new bar officially opens at noon this Saturday in Slip Inn Lane, off Market Street, with a launch party and ribbon cutting event to follow on Friday December 17 at 5pm.

While it will largely specialise in craft ale, the bar will cater for everyone and aims to bridge the gap in the market between other types of bars and pubs in Lancaster.

Jimmy's Taphouse in Slip Inn Lane, Lancaster. Photo by Neil Cross

"The bar is a modern craft ale bar that will be completely freehouse and designed to bring the feel of Manchester's Northern Quarter or Shoreditch to Lancaster," Gruff said.

"We are planning to stock really interesting beers, as well as a large range of alcohol free beers, so that a big part of the appeal will be to come in with a laptop or book and drink a savoury beer style drink without the hangover or needing to be a weekend.

"There are a lot of places in Lancaster but they are either very cocktail driven or they are traditional pubs, and there's nothing really in the middle.

"We are trying to get that balance between the two, to make it comfortable for people of all ages to want to come in and socialise."

The venue will house a ground floor bar with a chillout zone on the first floor with sofas. While it will feature occasional live music, it will mostly focus on relaxed background sounds to allow for socialising and conversation and to capture afternoon crowds.

The bar is to be named Jimmy's Taphouse, after a popular figure in Lancaster who has learning difficulties. Described by many around the city as 'Lancaster's hardest working man', Jimmy can often been seen sporting a high viz vest as a volunteer around many Lancaster events.

"Jimmy has been well known on the pool team at the Golden Lion for a number of years and so it just made sense to us," Gruff said. "We are trying to appeal to the local environment.

"There's quite a bit of history behind it all. Brendan himself was someone who fell on hard times, having lymphatic cancer at the age of 47, and passing away from COPD at 52.

"It's a pure passion project referencing and supporting the hard lives people go through and because we've seen so many places close over the years in Lancaster - not just pubs - we really want to breathe a breath of fresh air in and add to the life and vibrancy of the city."

The venue will also be operating on a 98 per cent recycling basis - including items such as crisp packets, plastics, empty kegs, cans and bottles.

Their bar is also unique, having imported a 'kegerator' from the USA - an all-in-one keg store, fridge, gas supply and dispenser.

Lancaster business Ellison AC freely gave their services to bring it into town and help install it.

Gruff is still looking for staff to complete the team, with the aim of having around six to eight full and part-time staff members. Anyone interested can email [email protected]

They eventually hope to open from noon until midnight, seven days a week.