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Entrepreneurs tap into Wakefield regeneration with launch of continental-style beer café

Wakefield’s ongoing regeneration has received another boost with the opening of a continental-style beer café which will be getting firmly behind the city’s upcoming rhubarb festival.

Wakefield Beer Exchange has opened on the Bull Ring by four Yorkshire businessmen who are hoping it will be the first in a small chain of bars around the region.

Owners Jon Foulger, Paul Marshall, Mark Seaman and Andrew Helm are all craft beer enthusiasts and the bar will be hosting a beer tasting session on the Saturday of the Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb in a council-sponsored demonstration marquee.

The annual Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb takes place between Friday 19 and Sunday 21 February. It attracts around 100,000 visitors and this year it celebrates its 10th birthday.

In the past few years, the city has seen several regeneration projects come to fruition including the Hepworth Wakefield, an art gallery named in honour of local sculptor Barbara Hepworth which opened in May 2011, and which added around £10 million to the local economy by attracting 500,000 visitors in its first year.

The Trinity Walk retail development opened in the same year as the Hepworth and is home to 40 stores and 1,000 car parking spaces, while the central square at the Bull Ring has been redesigned with a water feature and the Ridings Shopping Centre refurbished.

Wakefield Westgate Station goods yard and land on Westgate and Balne Lane have also been developed to create retail, residential and commercial space including new offices, a multi-storey car park serving the station, and a hotel.

Jon Foulger, one of the café bar’s co-owners, said: “We are all thrilled to have opened Wakefield Beer Exchange in time for the rhubarb festival and we really want to add to the buzz and sense of dynamism in the city, which as a result of the regeneration projects that have taken place over the past few years has really blossomed.

“We want to establish ourselves, not only as the place to go to get the best drinks around, but as a hub for some exciting events by playing our part in showcasing the great things that Wakefield has to offer.

“We’re really keen that the bar becomes part of the fantastic indie community that’s building up around the city, and we will be displaying exhibitions of local artists’ works and playing great music.”

During the rhubarb festival the bar will have two rhubarb beers available along with rhubarb gin, rhubarb pork pies, rhubarb tea and rhubarb wine.

The bar has more than 80 beers available in casks and keg as well as in bottles and cans as well as a range of wines and artisan gins.

It will also be serving beverages from Leeds-based North Star Coffee Roasters and Birdhouse Tea Company in Sheffield in addition to a range of snacks.

Wakefield Beer Exchange is open Monday to Thursday from 11am to 11pm; Friday and Saturday from 11am to midnight and Sunday from noon until 11pm.


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