Cafe society in Chapeltown

Taste 1

Between the takeaways and tailor shops something new has sprung up in Chapeltown. A beautiful new bakery, cafe and pizzeria called Taste.  Painted in olive green with the words artisan bakery, cafe and patisserie above its door, it is just a few steps along from something else that’s new – the big shiny library, chemist and information centre also on Chapeltown Road. It’s the cafe that really caught my attention though. The information centre looks great except it’s the sort of place you’d expect in inner city Leeds.  But the cafe, is something different.

Inside two large gold rimmed mirrors adorn the walls with the best of the day’s cakes and sandwiches penned upon them. On the others hang old fashioned coffee sacks, a massive clock and baskets of freshly baked bread.

 “Vintage country” is how owner Gary Hendrickson describes the place, and he designed it himself. My first thoughts were that it wouldn’t look out of place beside the swish new shops in London’s gleaming new St Pancras station.

So what a gem to suddenly land in Chapeltown. Gary himself is no newcomer to the area though. He has lived in Chapeltown all of his life and is keen to help it develop. He said: “I just wanted to give something new to the area, to create a somewhere people would really like to come.  I wanted to show the area is worthy of the investment.”

Gary’s attention to detail and his investment shows. People ask why he bothered to put a vintage old till in the place, but it is all part of his attention to detail and desire to create somewhere really beautiful that inspired him to do it.

Most importantly what about the food? Bread is freshly baked in the spotless kitchen around the back. Everything from white, brown, wholemeal, multi-grain, granary, onion, sun dried tomato, olive and sour dough. There is a selection of sandwiches and salads.  Pizzas are also available until 9pm at night. Coffees and teas, inside or out, this is a great new place.  And it has free Wi-fi.

Personally I don’t know Chapeltown very well. I’ve never lived there – just driven, cycled or trundled through on the Number 2 bus. I’ve seen places like the Northern Dance School grow and I’ve seen other places go. I do admit however, to not that long ago having a little bit of trepidation about the place. I‘ve only just recently ventured along the back streets. A little older now,  not much wiser but more experienced of north and south Leeds, I am looking at Chapeltown with new eyes, and will be going to stop off there a lot more often especially now I know where I can enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the sun.


  1. Is the area on the up?


    Look at the photo: and then look at the clientele of all the other eateries, brimming with life only a gunshot away, and then tell me what you notice?

    Invoking the spectre of the Reginald Centre is unfortunate in the extreme. A facility planned and built (and mostly staffed) by people from outside the area, on the site of the historic Hayfields pub, and Reginald terrace. The shops there – owned and run by black business people – were compulsorily purchased and decanted elsewhere, to make way for a facility which has landed like a spaceship at the corner of Harehills Lane.

    Sure enough Gary’s been smart enough to cash in on the crowd of uneasy middle class professionals who work at the RC, and who might approach Dutch Pot with trepidation. And good luck to him. But would it be overly harsh to call it a tourist attraction?

    When I go to places I’m not used to, I look to where the locals go to eat/drink/have fun. That’s part of the deal. I view this as a hallmark of quality. Of course there’s nothing wrong with a bottle of HP in the suitcase, but let’s not kid ourselves it makes the local cuisine any nicer. Just a little more acceptable to direful diners.

    Please, make sure you take a look (literally) over the road at the other coffee house which has opened in Chapeltown with a lot less parlava: Miss Brown’s (

    Unlike Taste, it would look significantly out of place in The Village (aka Chapel Allerton). And is none the worse for it. The drinks are good, it’s got a license, and it’s open late. And it’s got wifi too.

    Anyway – Chapeltown needs your coin, so don’t feel guilty if the local flavours are not to your taste. Your money’s just as good as anyone else’s. Let’s just not claim a reversion to the mean is evidence of being *on the up.*

    1. Jon Negative Beech,

      Your Market Research is all over the place!
      You also sound like you have some personal issues about local Young People having Investment within the community they have been brought up in.
      But I understand and sympathise with your non knowledge of the area which has limited you to such ridiculous thinking and comments.
      However, a young man like Gary has taken the time out to carefully research his business idea and ethics and has put together an excellent Business Plan. He has also put this into action regardless of the challenges and Negative stereotypes which has come his way.

      TASTE has put together what is and what will be a very successful business with the support of the community regardless of whether they live or work there.

      So Mr Beech please don’t be so NEGATIVE, envy and jealous of what a young man like Gary has worked so tirelessly hard to put together within the community, just kindly show your RESPECT and TRY to get an understanding of how to be POSITIVE! If not ask Gary and the staff at TASTE how to!

  2. Drove from West Park to Taste on Saturday to collect some pizzas on a friend’s recommendation. Absolutely amazing pizzas and a bargain too! The shop looked brilliant inside and I’ll definitely go back.

  3. Jon,

    When I went to Taste I did see Miss Browns over the road. I havent been there yet but I will go back and have a look. Taste just particularly caught my attention – because of the amount of investment that has clearly gone into the place. It isnt that I have been avoiding predominantly black or culturally diverse areas – I’ve lived in Brixton after all. But over the years Chapeltown hasn’t always looked like the most welcoming of places – a lot of burned out looking shops etc. The reason I spose I like Taste is that Gary, who does come from Chapeltown has been bold enough to spend a lot of money on the place – just that bit more for it to have caught my eye? Of course it is also done in a style I like but if he had chosen to spend his money on a jamaican or indian cafe then of course it would have particularly caught my interest too. And for me it would be nice to see this sort of bold investment in a few other struggling parts of Leeds too. I just hope it pays off.

  4. Parlava Jon ???? What parlava has taste opened with? Taste is a simple place that wants to go about its business in a quiet reserved manner, so id really like to know quite what you mean by the statement “over the road at the other coffee house which has opened in Chapeltown with a lot less parlava” Taste is a shop that hasn’t brandished its name in every advertising forum going, hasn’t done flyer drops or posters, no banners hanging from posts outside of the shop, no balloons or streamers, didn’t have no big launch day, hasn’t paid for a single piece of advertising space yet. What we do do is try to provide the people that both work and reside in chapeltown a choice of something different. That was the strategy behind the opening of taste, unlike as you suggest the more targeted approach of the Reginald Center opening, as if that was my strategy don’t go into battle with me as i failed miserably. Majority of my business is from locals who are in on a daily basis and of course we have people attending from the Reginald Centre but not in the numbers that would be sufficient to keep this place going. If like me have lived in chapeltown all my life you will know that there has been a long tradition of good shops where you could get a really good sandwich…..smileys, dellas, warsaw stores & later GB stores. So why not continue that with a bit more choice? Nothing loud about us just good quality, wholesome fresh food cooked by consummate professionals with a love of food.

    1. Just seen this, although a little late on, I’ll admit.

      Gary, I got no beef with you or your business. I’m glad you’re open and glad you’re doing well, and I’m glad that you’ve got a loyal following. I’ve eaten and drunk in your place and the food is good. I did not cuss your food, or your business. I also didn’t talk about fighting, battling, or make personal remarks – other than perhaps to suggest you were smart.

      My comment was primarily directed at what I perceived to be a rather patronising attitude of the final paragraph of the original article – which, I think, echoes the patronising attitude of many people from other parts of Leeds who sit idly by and watch Chapeltown being erased bit by bit, and ignore the feelings of people who live there. As the West Indian Carnival turns into Carnival (without the steel pans). As businesses are compulsorily purchased and knocked down. As public consultations are ignored.

      I fully recognise some people might view my comments as patronising too, which is fair enough – although they were not intended that way.

      My primary beef is with a crowd of people who find Chapeltown scary, and will only patronise the places they feel “safe”. And if safe looks more like Chapel Allerton, then I think it’s a shame.

      Hence my use of the word parlarva. I haven’t see many other Chapeltown or Harehills businesses feted on CV. That yours featured is great. And there are many more that should have the spotlight shone on them, too.

      Good luck to you in particular. Thanks for the conversation

  5. For other 30 years I’ve believed HARPOS to be the finest pizza takeaway in Leeds but not anymore. Taste’s pizzas are superb and very well priced (the 2 for £10 offer at the moment is amazing).

    The bread is fantastic and even had time the other night to try a small almond tart which again was superb.

    Keep up the good work Gary.

  6. Just thought I’d mention, Jon, the other coffee house you refer to in your comment, for whatever reason, is no longer in business. Speaks volumes, in my humble opinion; despite the criticism Taste must be doing something right, wouldn’t you agree? But what do I know – I’m just the wife of a focussed and committed young man, willing to take a chance during these difficult times and in a community and business venture that he strongly believes in… Props for that, if nothing more.

    Btw the sausage sarnies and American hot pizzas are particular faves of mines…

    1. Hi Donah,

      Nice of you to comment – I can’t believe this debate is still rumbling on. That’s what happens when you (think) you have done a perfectly innocent post. Anyway hope Jon gets back to you (and leaves me out of it…)!


  7. I don’t feel Jon Beech’s comment about Miss Browns Coffee Shop (also run by a white entrepreneur) has any relevance. Taste offers a much bigger menu, offers more homemade baked goods, and.. Well, Miss Browns is now closed.
    Taste is thriving.

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