Stoke-on-Trent music promoters open new student bar in Newcastle


Two music moguls from Stoke-on-Trent have launched a new venture and aim to eat into the restaurant market.

Lee Barber and Richard Buxton are more known for promoting gigs and writing about all things local.

But now they’re dishing up grilled cheese in a bid to breathe new life into a former Newcastle-under-Lyme electronics store.

Rebel Rooms, on Merrial Street, is the latest venture taken on by the daring duo.

The café and bar is a part of a much larger project based around the Staffordshire music scene.

Lee, 30, of Meir, initially set up live music promotion company Rebel Bear, putting on gigs to promote local bands and artists.

He teamed up with Richard, 51, from Trentham, for Rebel – an online website for “all things locally cultural”.

And now they’ve moved from digital to dough – making and baking bagels and serving cocktails!

Rebel Rooms

Rebel Rooms

Richard said: “When the opportunity came we decided to stick with the Rebel theme!

“I love independent cafes.

“In Manchester, I go to the Northern Quarter, the Lanes in Brighton, places like that.

“I always fancied bringing something like that to the area.”

Nicola McManus, 29, of May Bank, is Rebel Rooms’ resident chef.

She said they want to appeal to students. “There’s nothing in town that really attracts them.

“It’s either completely mainstream or really expensive.

“There was nothing that would specifically appeal to them, the things they want to eat and drink or the surroundings they want to sit in.”

Since Rebel Rooms opened on October 2, staff have seen “different people” through the door.

“It’s great because we aren’t just appealing to students, we’re appealing to crowds that we didn’t expect to,” added Nicola.

On their first Saturday, staff had to close early as they ran out of sourdough for food.

Rebel Rooms

Rebel Rooms

And it seems some customers just can’t stay away.

Lucy Lambourne-Gibbs, 38, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, is a regular at the café.

“It’s so amazing. The food is fantastic and it’s just got that really relaxed vibe so you can really chill out.”

Nearby independent business owners are also happy to see a fresh new bar on the block.

Anya Szczur, 27, of Meir, owns Hounds Dog Shop on Fogg Street.

She said: “It’s an opportunity for people to come into town and stay a little longer within a cozy atmosphere.”

Future plans for Rebel Rooms include a second bar in the upstairs area.


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