AN ICONIC bar which has been part of the fabric of Leamington town centre for more than 40 years has been relaunched under a new name.
Wildes, a family-run bar opened in a Regency basement in Parade in 1976, has been relaunched as Cellar Club by business partners Gareth Dore and Ben Philpotts.
The venue was rebranded in the spring and relaunched this month following a substantial investment by its new owners over the summer.
As well as introducing new technology allowing customers to serve their own craft beers and wines, the venue has created its own permanent kitchen residency, The Vegan Burger Club, which offers an range of burgers, hot dogs, wings and puddings, all without a trace of meat or dairy in sight.
Diners can feast on the likes of southern fried fillet burgers, bacon cheeseburgers, pulled BBQ jackfruit loaded fries, chilli dogs and wings, all made entirely from plant-based products.
Gareth and Ben, who both live in Leamington, met ten years ago when Ben moved to the area to launch The Clarendon pub in Clarendon Avenue, and Gareth returned from working in Cyprus.
Gareth said: “I went to The Clarendon for a drink, Ben served me and we got talking about doing something together but the project was never quite right until this opportunity came along.
That changed in December 2016 when Gareth, who by this time was running his own business consultancy, and Ben approached Wildes owner Max Smith, who was planning his retirement.
“We wanted to turn the bar from a French bistro back to what it was in the past, an innovative and fun bar that does great food,” added Gareth.
“There is something in the bricks and mortar here which is special and that’s something we want to carry on.”
In the kitchen, the food offering aims to show people that going meat-free does not mean missing out on flavour.
Gareth continued: “Ben has been eating vegan food for some time and wanted to try a menu in the bar. I was sceptical at first but when I tried it, I was converted.”
“It’s proof you can have beautiful-tasting, indulgent food without any meat. It’s not about trying to convince people to go vegan, it’s about offering an alternative.”
The duo aim to offer something for everyone at the venue, including students, the after-work crowd, sports fans and music lovers.
“We want a bar where everyone feels welcome, somewhere that has something of interest for everyone, to incorporate new technologies with old-fashioned hospitality. Being one of very few independents left in the town, we like the freedom of being able to be different from the other bars and pubs in Leamington.”
Students get a 20 per cent discount on food on production of a student card; sports fans are catered for with two HD projector screens showing Sky Sports and BT Sport and music lovers can enjoy funk and soul DJ nights at weekends.
For more information, visit www.cellarclubleamington.co.uk or search for Cellar Club Leamington on social media.