A NOTORIOUS pub that was dubbed “Edinburgh’s worst bar” and closed after violent clashes is set to re-open as an independent restaurant and mixed arts venue.
The new venture, called Leith Depot, is due to launch shortly on Leith Walk and will occupy premises previously run by the Meridian Bar.
Before it closed, Meridian bosses banned more than 80 patrons in a frantic bid to reverse its reputation as a crime-blighted boozer.
It had its licence revoked in 2013 to give it time to improve but was later shut permanently.
The team behind Leith Depot – which will boast a dedicated events space for between 60 and 70 people, as well as a restaurant and bar – said the feel of their venue would be very different.
And they predicted it would contribute to the rejuvenation of the wider Leith Walk area.
Peter Mason, who is launching the venture with the help of Julie Carty and Patrick Kavanagh, said: “We’re open for all members of the community – it could be a community night, poetry night, live music.
“We’ll be hosting talent from around the area – musicians, whether it’s jazz, folk, anything. It will be music and mixed arts, although primarily music.
“We’ve also built a kitchen and we’ll be introducing food. There will also be quite a few local brews on the go.”
He added: “It will be very friendly. There will be a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.”
Once opened, the venue will join a host of new dining establishments – including coffee and tapas bar Serrano Manchego, Origano pizzeria and Portuguese bakehouse Casa Amiga – which are helping to transform Leith Walk.
Mr Mason said there was a renewed buzz and sense of positivity about the thoroughfare, which recently had its pavements upgraded.
“There’s definitely more footfall since they improved the pavements,” he added. “It’s certainly become busier.
“For Leith Depot, we have completely knocked in the front. We have a brand new frontage – it’s unrecognisable. We’ve put a lot of effort in to make it look presentable.
“And any events going on – Leith Lates, the Leith Jazz and Blues festival – we’d be quite happy to be part of that.”
Local political leaders have hailed the venue’s arrival.
Councillor Chas Booth, Green member for Leith, said: “This sounds like a welcome change from the previous establishment on the site. I know there’s a desperate need for a high-quality music venue in the city and I hope that this development can help to meet that need.”
He added: “This development comes as part of a string of improvements, both to the quality of the pavements and the general environment on Leith Walk. And the pubs and bars are upping their game in terms of what they offer.”