Is it a café? Is it a bar? Is it a café-bar?
Well it all depends on where you stand on these things. Because the Angel On The Green on Bishopthorpe Road combines all three – plus a cycle workshop and a pizzeria to boot.
Bishopthorpe Road, York
Opens Thu Dec 1, from 12 noon daily
Start at the far end and you are in the café. This part is unlicensed and will close in the evening – or possibly not (more on that later).
Move through to the middle and you are in the snug café-bar. And keep going to the room on the corner of Darnborough Street, and you are in the bar itself.
“The whole aim is to make the best use of the building,” says Pete Kilbane, one of the driving forces behind the Angel On The Green.
“It’s a café during the day and in the night time it’s going to feel like a bar. So the brief was to make sure that when you are in it as a café it felt like a café, and when you are in it as a bar, it felt like a bar.”
And that is what designer Jo Walton, who runs Fossgate artists’ studio Rogue Atelier, has achieved. “I’m blown away by the job she’s done, it’s incredible,” says Pete.
Share and share alike
Like York’s first community pub the nearby Golden Ball, which Pete is also heavily involved with, the Angel On The Green is very much by and for locals.
Designer Jo, the builders and joiners, and the manager Lucy Cordukes, have all given some of their time and skills in exchange for shares in the business. Lucy is a familiar face to Bishy Roaders – she used to run the Slip Inn.
Neighbourhood craftsman Oliver Richardson hand-built the bar “and it’s absolutely beautiful”.
The project has been funded by ten local investors. “It had to be people who had a community interest. People who wanted it to benefit the community, not just make money,” said Pete.
Women’s night out
But if it follows the co-operative model of the Golden Ball, it is designed to be definitely different.
“It is a bar,” Pete says. “There’s loads of really great pubs round there – the Swan, the Slip, the Golden Ball, the Old Ebor – so we didn’t want to open another pub.”
He is particularly keep to ensure women feel welcome at the Angel. Pete also helps run the Escape Club, the club night where you are encouraged to escape the kids for an hour or two of dancing and socialising.
“We found there’s a huge appetite from women to go and have a good night out without any of the hassles that can go with a club or being in town.
“We’ve tried to create a venue that’s like a big night out but it’s not in town, it’s on Bishy Road.
“Everybody’s welcome but we really want to give women a place where they can go and have a good night out with their mates.”
Angel On The Green is located in what was home to Cycle Heaven before it moved out to bigger premises on Hospital Fields Road. There remains a small cycle workshop there.
But there is another connection too. The Angel’s café is run by Café 68. This started started on Gillygate, then moved to Bishopthorpe Road, while taking over the food side of the new Cycle Heaven.
It also runs the York Castle Museum café. Owned by Duncan Brown and his wife Emma, Café 68 is looking forward to bringing new tastes to Angel customers.
As well as offering a full English breakfast (served from 9am) it will serve up top veggie and vegan options too.
Look out for butter-fried parsley dumplings with poached eggs and a hollandaise sauce. Breakfast options will range from £4.50 to £7.95.
Duncan says the lunch menu, from about noon onwards, will have a typical price of £6.95 and include things like Spanish omelette and croque monsieur. Or try topki – their own creation featuring courgette and feta balls covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried.
Then there are the pizzas. Toppings include the Smokey Joe, with home-cooked smoked ham and cheddar cheese. They appear first on the lunch menu.
At night, the bar also becomes a pizzeria just between Thursday and Saturday for now.
There’s a lot of emphasis on local produce and a hand-crafted kids menu – Duncan and Emma have two young children of their own so know the importance of one of those.
A local wine merchant has been brought in to create a selection of wines which is unique to the Angel. There will also be a varied range of gins and vodkas.
For beer the emphasis is on local breweries. The bar has four handpulls, and these will begin by dispensing
- house beer The Ainsty Angel from Ainsty Brewery – a 3.7% pale ale
- Over The Moon by Brown Cow
- Bad Kitty from Brass Castle, a dark beer, and
- Little Eagle from Brew York.
Historian Susan Major has been researching the building’s past and discovered that in the 1930 it was home to a German pork butchers called Angel & Co.
“As soon as I saw it, I thought ‘it’s Angel’ – it goes with Cycle Heaven,” said Pete.
“The green bit is because we look at what some people see as the traffic island across the way and see the potential for a village green.
“It’s a big space. During the Tour de France, when it was totally occupied by people having a good time, it made you realise how big it was. There was a street party last year and there was a band playing there and a beer tent.
“Plus ‘Angel On The Green’ sounds a lot better than ‘Angel On The Traffic Island’.”
Although the café shuts at night, Pete is keen that the room is available to community groups.
“We’d like local community groups to come and use the space. If you’ve got a local history group or local art group, or you want to put on some sort of performance, come and use the space.”
With the cycling connection he would like to start an Angel social cycle club. And perhaps debates on topical subjects could also be hosted here.
“Everybody locally has pitched in. Everyone all around us has helped make it happen,” said Pete.
“We’re genuinely independent local people doing it for the local community.
“Of course you’ve got to make money to make the thing thrive, and people want to make a return on their investment. But the overriding aim is to do it for the local community.”