It was with a little tear in our eyes we read the news about Cafe 164’s decision to move their Munro House operation to the suburbs. After 11 years at Munro house, they are moving their headquarters to Headingley to fully focus all operations from there. A new chapter rather than an ending, but we’ll miss having them nearby.
That building holds so many memories for us at Leeds Indie Food, from the first whispers of a festival back in 2014 when Duke Studios was cardboard offices, to several meetings in Cafe164 and numerous visits (a day) to Colours May Vary. From seeing the first inception as a gallery at Munro House with a small coffee shop to its shift into a coffee shop with a small gallery, we have witnessed so many changes in that space.
Owners Ellie and Matt were one of the driving forces of the scene back then and their love for arts helped the festival grow in so many ways. From crazy event ideas (City of Cake, Foraging around the building, Our Kirkgate Market allotment) to some thought provoking and inspirational events (Hands on Sensuality in particular), they opened the doors to others and put on all kinds of events from mental health talks to exhibition launches. We salute you both.
Cafe 164 was our meeting place, our daily coffee house, our place for a friendly chat and you never knew who you would bump into. From BBC staff, musicians and pretty much anyone involved in culture, it was also our peaceful respite from busy days.
We have seen first hand how Covid took its toll on small businesses in Leeds and the way Matt and Ellie adapted by opening Headingley, doing deliveries and trying so many things to make the city centre space work was impressive. The suburb shop thrived, so it was only gonna be a matter of time before they transitioned fully to the LS6 site. With Cafe 164 now moving on, Munro House will still be home to Sarto. We hope there are plans for some independent spirit to take over the space as Cafe 164’s departure leaves a big gap in the indie scene.