14 September 2021

Operations manager, Nathan Birkinshaw talks us through Host & Home’s journey to operating some of Wakefield’s best loved independent bars in the city Centre. Covering rapid growth, the challenges of a global pandemic to the opening of Wakefield’s first car-park outdoor bar and restaurant concept.

It all started about 10 years ago in the heart of Wakefield, there was a small bar in town called “Velvet” situated on Queens Street which for 5 years was a little hole in the wall bar where late at night bar tenders and staff who worked in the city Centre went to finish their night off when they’d finished their shifts.

This late-night hot spot was bought by the Dentist next door to it so with two weeks’ notice and little money in the account the team came up with the idea to lease a site just across the road on Market Street which they transformed and became a different animal all together with a space three times the size!

The site began gaining a massive following which, at the time differentiated itself to the rest by offering craft beer and unique cocktails and not to forget free entry! The team at Host & Home had bouts of experience working nationally and internationally across the world and in large cities across the UK and used this collective experience to bring this vibe to life in Wakefield. 

After a year of being super busy with the business growing rapidly the team decided it was time to expand, the team decided to take this next step by taking over the basement bar next door to the Market Street site called “Now Serving”.

As the team evolved and their tastes changed they wanted to use this to inspire and mix up their bars and venues in Wakefield by offering a different “feel” to their city Centre bars with live music, cocktails, event spaces for movie nights, scratch theatre nights and not to forget with working with local organisations and individuals such as Chris Hale of MasterChef, Gyros Bro,‘s the Art House and more.

This was reflected in their Creativity for their next two spaces; The Golden Pineapple and RBT Video! The Golden Pineapple situated on Wood Street is essentially a small tiki bar with a Victorian twist… think Hawaii, rum, fire! This vibrant bar offers a more refined-in house twist with delicious food and fancy cocktails!

RBT Video is Host & Home’s hidden gem and a secret which has brought something quirky & original to Wakefield…The world’s first VHS (very hidden speakeasy) an intimate speakeasy style cocktail bar on Northgate tucked away in the back of a local VHS shop!

Host & Home are serving spaces for creativity and spaces where local businesses and young entrepreneurs can start up and do their own thing! The team are all originally from Wakefield and passionate about the district and what it has to offer.

The pandemic hit the Live Events & entertainment industry badly during the pandemic and brought the industry to a standstill, Host & Home were eventually able to reopen during the summer of 2020 and during their time off had been working hard behind the scenes on a completely new idea! The team decided to try and utilize their outdoor space behind RBT Video and asked their landlords if they could transform this space into a pop-up bar.

The team found an ice cream van and transformed this into a snazzy bar through spray painting the exterior and fitting out the interior! They decided to name this new outdoor space “LOT” and worked closely with local independent restaurants who didn’t have the outdoor space to give them this offering! Host & Home pride themselves on a community over competition approach.

“LOT” proved to be extremely popular and Host & Home were soon approached by a company called Mans Markets a popular Leeds new age, hip Chinese restaurant and bar inspired from Hong Kong to collaborate together and bring Leeds into Wakefield.

Host & Home’s growth journey in Wakefield has come from pure graft! The team pride themselves on working with likeminded people, businesses and organisations who want the company to thrive! The successful and dynamic team strive for creative inclusivity and work with and support local partners and friends to help spread the word and grow the ideas.

Operations Manager Nathan shares the teams backing for Wakefield “Wakefield to us is home, we have all grown up in areas of the district and started in the industry as glass collectors from a young age”.

“We may have all left at some points and done different things but coming back it’s almost as though Wakefield is the Centre of the Universe”.

“There is a definite pull that makes you want more from Wakefield! Wakefield has always been indulging nostalgia and there is so much potential and growth here which has been proved for us as a company for the past five years”.

“For us it’s taking the initiative to re-imagine these spaces, Wakefield has so much to offer and more people need to take a step back and see what it truly has to offer”.

As for future plans the team at Host & Home have always been firm believers in until the inks dry it’s not happening and everything they want to do is firmly in Wakefield!

For more information on Host & Home please visit their website: