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'Monkey Bar' in Newcastle has a new organ grinder

The Market Lane pub in Pilgrim Street, which has been welcoming punters for 150 years has a new manager with big plans

The Market Lane - or Monkey Bar as it is known - has a new manager
The Market Lane - or Monkey Bar as it is known - has a new manager

A Newcastle pub with a special place in the city’s history is looking to the future with a new manager.

For more than 150 years, The Market Lane in Pilgrim Street – known as the Monkey bar – has been a key fixture in Newcastle’s nightlife.

Now, general manager Jamie Logan, 25, hopes to attract the next generation of customers to the venue, which can trace its history back to around 1850.

Originally called the Old Market Lane Hotel, the pub was a popular watering venue for the Irish bricklayers who helped build much of Victorian Newcastle.

Legend has it that they used to leave their hods, or monkeys, in the passageway as security against their bar bill – giving the venue the nickname it still bears today.

Jamie joins The Market Lane from Osbornes in Jesmond, where he was assistant manager. “The two venues could not be more different,” he says. “Osbornes is very modern with an extensive cocktail menu, while The Market Lane is very traditional with a solid reputation for selling fantastic real ales.

“It’s that history and sense of continuity that makes The Market Lane so special. It’s a real pub and that’s why everyone loves it – it’s a little gem.”

The Market Lane is owned by Newcastle-based leisure company The Malhotra Group, which has installed a free jukebox and a pool table and now plans to build on the venue’s reputation for serving quality beers and ales.

“Earlier this year we held our first beer and cider festivals at The Runhead Bar and Grill, Ryton and The Sandpiper, Cullercoats,” says Malhotra Group director Atul Malhotra.

“Through those we forged strong relationships with some of the North East’s finest independent breweries, which we plan to strengthen by offering an unsurpassed selection of locally produced brews at The Market Lane.”

In 2015 the company also plans to invest a significant amount of money extending the bar into the neighbouring premises and adding a terrace and restaurant.

“We are very conscious of the pub’s history – now it’s our job to make sure it has an equally long and successful future,” adds Atul.

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