ROB Norbury may be familiar to people of Saddleworth as the owner of Uppermill’s Muse and Grasscroft’s Farrars Arms – but his latest project has expended his knowledge.
For the man whose venues deliver great food as well as drinks is focussed purely on the ‘wet’ side with his latest venture – District in Lees.
Being at the helm has opened his eyes to a different strand of the hospitality industry.
“I’d never done anything that was just based on drinks,” Rob admitted. “So this was a nice opportunity to see how that works.
“It’s massively different from the other venues. Look at the three sites we have and they’re busy at different times.
“When you’re just relying on drinks sales – particularly with a small bar – it’s quite difficult to know what time you’re going to be busy and how busy you’re going to be.
“It’s been very different and a learning curve for me. We have to adapt to see what people want.”
District’s introduction to Lees’ High Street – which saw a former office converted – has proved a welcome boost for the area since it opened at the beginning of September.
It hosts live music every Sunday from 4pm until 7pm and there are plans to have more evenings.
It was the venue for a cheese and wine night on Thursday, December 2 and hopes are high of doing wine, gin and cocktail tastings in the new year.
For Rob, though, the start is promising – now to build on that.
He added: “It’s always difficult when you’re opening somewhere that wasn’t there before.
“However, changing something that wasn’t set up to be a bar was probably the most difficult thing.
There were trials and tribulations.
“When we opened the Farrars, a lot of people knew it and wanted to have a look at first.
“With Muse, we started small and built up a reputation. Then when we opened up the bigger side, there was already interest.
“This one is quite different. We started in lockdown and people didn’t really know what was going on.
“Now it’s grown quite organically. We opened under the radar and people started to see it and that’s what we wanted – people to go in on a Friday, then they’re telling their friends about it on the Saturday.
“It’s steady but it’s had a nice vibe and quite a few regulars have been coming back in.
“Lees has been through quite a few different times – sometimes it’s been booming, sometimes it’s quietened off.
“We had a look, and looked during lockdowns, and thought, ‘There’s quite a few people in the area who have options of going out,’ and we thought there was a possibility of doing something that’s wet-led aimed at a slightly older clientele – couples and smaller groups – who’s want to come and have a nice drink with a premium selection of spirits, wines and cocktails.
“It’s been a really friendly place. We’re just looking to build on the start we’ve had.”
• District can be found at 103 High Street, Lees and is open from 4pm until midnight on Thursday and Friday and 2pm until midnight on Saturday and Sunday.