A pint-sized pub with a difference is set to open in Newcastle in a vibrant new part of the city centre.
Adhering strongly to the ‘small is beautiful’ adage, The Split Chimp starts serving in three weeks’ time in Arch 11 on Forth Street as Newcastle’s very first micro pub, the result of a long-held ambition for paramedic-turned businessman Mark Hall.
Mr Hall, who now works as an NHS troubleshooting consultant, is using £10,000 of his own money to transform the empty, 775sqft two-floor arch into the business.
And he is currently carrying out all of the interior works himself, creating a bar and two floors of comfortable seating areas to create a ‘home from home’ environment.
The tiny tavern, named after the wedge of wood placed at the back of an ale cask to tip it, will stick to the true principles of micro pubs.
While there will be some light background music there certainly won’t be any blaring TVs, jukebox or gaming machines, though there will be free wi-fi.
Mr Hall will also be selling his own wine in Wine Bar Pouches, ingenious drinking pouches he invented that he currently sells online and at fayres and festivals around the UK.
Operating a Challenge 23 policy, Mr Hall will initially open the 50-capacity pub from 4pm to 11pm Monday to Saturday, with an option to open on a Sunday too.
He said: “I was listening to a guy on the radio talking about micro pubs and thought it was a great idea, and since then I’ve been into quite a few – one in Harrogate was like sitting in someone’s front room.
“My local is more of a food place but the best part of it is sitting round a big table with people having real conversation, with no jukeboxes or fruit machines and no people there wanting to get smashed out of their faces.
“That’s what micro pubs are. It’s for the more mature drinker.
“I won’t be serving gin and tonics, vodka and tonics or pints of Fosters – just craft ale, cask ale and wine.
“And I won’t be offering huge, confusing amounts of choice – there will be five or six wines chosen by me and craft bottled ales and cask ales that will also be a tailored choice.
“There are hundreds of micro breweries in the region and everyone I’ve contacted has heard about the pub and said they’ll supply it.
“The beauty of real ale in a micro pub is that it will be something different every time.”
The Split Chimp will become the latest new business to flourish in the railway arches system, leased by Network Rail, following the Herb Garden and the Sausage Emporium, while also joining existing offices, cafes and deli bars.
A planning application to open a gym four doors away from The Split Chimp has also been submitted to Newcastle City Council, as further evidence of a steadily rising independent business community around the station.
Mr Hall said: “The location is great. There is a student accommodation building and a residential development going up opposite me, the Stephenson Quarter down the road will be completed soon and there is good footfall too.
“I’ve also kept my eye on what has been happening in these railways arches over the last few years, and it’s becoming a real community. I’m hoping it will do well.”