Leicester – Head of Steam

On 5 April 2018, what I consider to be one of the best pub chains in the country opened a grand new pub on Market Street in Leicester, a craft beer delight. Plenty of money was spent on the interior to give it an on-trend and cutting edge feel to it. It lasted for just nine months when the owners Camerons turned into The Sanctuary, a different brand they also operated, which in turn survived for just a few weeks.

I asked a few people this week what happened to the Head of Steam and why it closed. There was universal acceptance that this was a great pub, but that it was ahead of its time and simply the wrong building for the brand and in the wrong part of the city. It seems that the pub was well managed, it got positive reviews and looking through their beer list, they were doing a marvellous job. Unfortunately, the customers just didn’t come and even the launch party was heavily under-attended.

The premises became used by a steakhouse which only lasted a few months, but after a couple of years of remaining empty, Olivia’s Townhouse have now moved in. This one looks destined to fail as things stand, they’ve been hit with a series of negative reviews and I suspect that they might struggle as well to make this site work. They’re aiming at a very different demographic to me, namely 18-21 year old women judging from the marketing with no real ale or craft beer available.

Perhaps if Head of Steam had opened a smaller outlet, more similar in size to their Hull premises, then it might have survived and prospered. Sadly, this transpired to be an expensive mistake from the chain and I can imagine that the losses here were significant. Hopefully one day the Head of Steam will return to Leicester, but perhaps in a more manageable location.