Over nearly two decades, husband and wife Mel and Phil Harrison, Co-Founders of Escapism Bars, have opened seven uniquely themed bars in Leeds city centre. These include: Tiki Hideaway, Call Lane Social, The Maven, Cuckoo, Brooklyn, Verve and Mean-Eyed Cat. Each venue has become an iconic location within Leeds’ busy nightlife scene.
Despite the challenges faced by Covid-19, the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy rates, this hospitality business is planning for national growth, with several openings planned over the next few years.
Its first new opening and venture in a different city, has seen a second Mean-Eyed Cat bar arrive on Seel Street in Liverpool last month. Its original Mean-Eyed Cat venue opened back in 2004 and to this day resides on Merrion Street in Leeds.
Following its successful Liverpool opening, Escapism Bars has also set its sights on Manchester, with a venue due to be opened in the Northern Quarter in September 2023. By 2025, Escapism Bars plan to open more venues, in Birmingham, Sheffield and Nottingham.
Grant Dexter, Managing Director at Escapism Bars, commented: “Our company’s ambition is to be the UK’s most loved group of bars! Everyone still wants to have a good time and escape reality and that’s exactly what we work hard on offering.
“As a company we are forward thinking, and we adapt fast. We continue to invest in people with our Barback to Boardroom training programme, we also pay everyone a fair wage, regardless of any factors other than ability and passion.
“We invest to retain our people and keep them happy. That’s how we tackle the challenges that are presented to us in the market today. The future is exciting and we can’t wait to embark on our upcoming journey of expansion and bring our party offering to other cities around the UK.”Grant Dexter Managing Director at Escapism Bars
Escapism Bars turnover sits at just under £6.5 million in the last 12 months of trading. It credits its growth to its investment in a strong sales team and a successful internal training programme which has qualified 102 bartenders, 29 supervisors, seven managers and four team promotions to HQ.
Formerly known as Escapism Bar Group, the company has recently updated its name to Escapism Bars, after undergoing an update of its brand identity to reflect its core values and its focus on people and culture.
The business recently scooped Best Hospitality Business of the Year in the Yorkshire Post Business Excellence Awards, winning in this category against other renowned companies in the region, such as Rudding Park.