We were sad to hear recently that Leaf, based in the Elevator building on Parliament Street, had shut its doors to concentrate on its newly-opened Bold Street branch.

Its original incarnation in the Static Gallery was a real gem, but Leaf’s move to the up-and-coming Baltic Triangle felt like a brave and powerful expansion to a side of the city centre, at a time when many visitors had barely been past the sticky benches of the Baltic Fleet.

Its closure and shift to Bold Street has a strange effect on the balance of the city. The Baltic Triangle had a big PR and media push last year: “It’s like New York in the 80s or something!” said a salivating array of planners and developers impressed by its crumbly potential. Bold Street, meanwhile, was considered a danger zone, on its last legs. A street under threat from Liverpool ONE’s giant TopShop-gloved claws.

But, surprisingly, the tide seems to be turning: the buzzing Bold Street Coffee, the ever-thriving Tabac, and now the freshly opened Leaf have injected a new homegrown energy to a strip of the city everyone thought was done for. Even bigger brands like Bench are starting to move back to Bold, and the forthcoming Central Village looks set to include even more.

Where does this leave the Baltic Triangle, though? The loss of Leaf (and, recently, The Orchid) might be a bigger blow than you’d think. The area lacks a central hub that a cool, multi-purpose, well known venue like Leaf provides – it was a gig space, meeting place, and friendly hangout. Ultimately though it was a shop window for the Baltic Triangle. A place to show people that yes, stuff actually does go on at that side of the city, and it’s worth the ten minute stroll from town.

The impressive CUC building has been woefully underused, undervisited and underpromoted in the past, but the huge forthcoming Threshold festival looks set to open up that side of the city to a demographic who may not have been aware of it before. Punters who aren’t necessarily artists, musicians or in-the-know creatives. It’s an important (and crucial) move in reestablishing the Triangle, and refusing to let its untapped potential go to waste.

It’ll be fascinating to see the shifts and flows of movement over the coming year throughout the city. Liverpool ONE still thrives and the Bold Street fightback is in full effect, but it’s the Baltic section that will be the most interesting to watch. Will it remain a slightly-too-out-the-way-for-most-people curiosity, or blossom into the most buzzing area this side of Williamsburg? What do you think?

25 Responses to “Leaf it out”

  1. CUC is a good start in the redevelopment but The Baltic Triangle is probably a 30-year development. the re-opening of St.James station would also help with transport connections.

  2. Liverpool One was always going to have this effect on Bold Street – it brought more visitors and more visitors = more opportunity all round, including for what is becoming seen as the ‘bohemian’ end of town. This is great news for all areas of the city centre.

    The baltic area is derelict and dark at night. It needs more than spin to bring it to life properly and will always struggle for as long as its physical environment remains the same. Ironically , the best the baltic can hope for is for the other areas to boom, and for the city centre to grow and swallow it whole.

  3. Totally agree that St James Station opening would fast forward development here massively.
    Why don’t they just do it?! The amount it would cost must surely be the cheapest a station has ever been created for.

  4. Shame it’s closing (closed?) – had a really good vibe. I have been to the Bold St one as well, though, and liked it too. Agree with other comments, that part of town sorely needs a station, or safe transport link, particularly at night. It’s a grim walk from town. Often I’ve been put off going to evening events I’ve wanted to go to because of that

  5. Transport connections are the main and overriding issue.

    We promote local gigs in the Picket, a fantastic venue run by friendly and passionate owner Phil Hayes, with a great team of staff.

    His dedication to live music in Liverpool has been a 30 year effort and it makes my blood boil that his partially council funded venue is completely inaccessible via public transport.

    Simple issues like this could completely transform the area in far less than 30 years suggested by IDL and bring a young and passionate crowd to the Triangle.

  6. What no mention of Leaf’s disgusting sacking of their old coffee shop and parts of the building, not paying rent etc.. etc..? I agree Leaf’s new place on Bold Street is lovely, and I have always enjoyed my time in their establishment, but to see the careless and deliberate vandalism they left the place in, a place the rest of Elevator studios have to use then I certainly won’t be using their coffee shop again, in fact I would encourage others to snub them as well.
    They may have had issues with the landlord because they haven’t paid rent or whatever but to do what they did is out of order. The Baltic area will be better off without them and more prosperous.
    As to Liverpool One having an effect on retail and business etc… well the audience that goes to Liverpool One is so different than Bold Street and the Baltic area. Bold Street has always been a niche shopping street and it needs to play on that strength.

  7. Chiefly because we’re not aware of any sacking and vandalism, but also because we’ve no wish to get in the middle of an alleged disagreement between a landlord and a tenant.

    Whatever may or may not have gone on at Leaf in the Baltic Triangle, we think the area will be poorer for its absence.

  8. The lack of public transport is the biggest problem the whole area lacks. There use to an eco bus that ran around on the wirral , which would be totally idea as a culture bus, to link up all of the arts venues, and yes, dear I suggest throughout the night, it could just keep doing a loop , from the Phil, and Ev, down to Playhouse, R Court , Empire, Arena, any art galleries on route and up to C U C and arts in that area….Who do we petition, the city really needs this link…

  9. No I agree without a food type place, another one gone in the area, it is less reason to visit. Let’s hope a new coffee or food place opens soon.
    As to the dispute you are right not to get involved. I am not so sure about Leaf’s ex building neighbours however, never mind the landlords.
    The main point you make is the area has been hit another blow with a business leaving, which is sad, of course a new business could have come straight in if they wanted, but because of the damage that is no longer possible.

  10. It wasn’t just landlord issues that Leaf at Baltic had, they seemed to have an issue with paying their suppliers too. They’ve shot themselves in the foot because when you’re using the same companies as many other popular eateries in the area then word really gets around. There was a bad attitude from the owners of this establishment and a severe lack of respect to other businesses which I believe will be now mutual. As for the damage to the building, I know many elevator residents who boycotted the brand way before it even moved to Bold Street. They really bit the hand that could have fed them.

  11. That sort of thing wasn’t mentioned in the article because we’re both not aware of it and it wouldn’t be fair to include it. The point, regardless of why it shut/who was to blame/how they run their business, is that the Baltic area has lost a fairly established local brand and focal point. And, ultimately, that’s a bit of a shame for that end of town.

  12. As Jenny says when that focal point is nothing but a negative influence to the fellow businesses, is it better to see the back of them? Bring in a better business instead that wants to be part of the community not against it.

  13. This is Graham, one of the directors at LEAF. The above comments made (probably Elevator landlords or representatives) are completely untrue. We are currently in the process of taking legal action against our old landlord for complete slander.

    We are still using the same suppliers as we did at LEAF at Baltic, and have a great working relationship with them. We would like to also make people aware that we are extremely sad to have left the Baltic area and for the last 18 months we have battled with the landlord to stay in the building.

    With regards to leaving the cafe like a building site, please see the police records 842 which will clearly state that we tried to leave the cafe as we found it. Unfortunately we were stopped by the landlord, even though we had paid our rent up until 31st January.

    Before liable comments are made we suggest that you get your facts straight and check police records.

    We’d like to thank Seven Streets for the lovely article and all of our wonderful customers who continue to support us.

  14. Natalie Haywood here, managing Director of LEAF These comments are almost laughable. Please get your facts straight before making unfounded and absurd allegations.

    As Graham said we are very sad to be forced to leave the Baltic after all of our hard work there to build it up.. and we hope to see our regulars who made us what we are at the new site.

    Onwards and upwards!

    Nataliex natalie@thisisleaf.co.uk

  15. Dave Shearer

    Excellent business now in a much better location in Bold St. Elevator will have their hands full trying to find a ‘better business’ to come in. I think they have just lost the only thing they had going for them – terrible loss. And Jenny- Have you seen how busy Bold St Leaf is? That’s got to be the worst boycott I’ve ever seen!

  16. Samantha Enriles

    I think it is really good of Graham and Natalie to come on here and defend Leaf. Always been a good place to eat and the Bold Street place is designed lovely.
    However us connected to the Baltic area have seen and, of course they are rumours, that there is issues between landlords and the organisation for a while. A total communication and relationship breakdown, these things sadly happen.
    However whatever happened Friday night, I was in there Friday afternoon and the place looked as good as normal. When I returned Saturday the place had been taken to with a sledgehammer it seemed. Whoever did this needs to really have a hard look at themselves and quite frankly assess their business and human morals. It really isn’t on.
    Best of luck to Leaf in their new location, third location isn’t it in a few years? And good luck to all the artists, designers and other businesses that are based in Elevator Studios who now have to manouvour their way through the wrecked communal area of their building, and good luck to the landlords who now have to find a new business to come into that destroyed space.
    I just hope the rumours above aren’t correct Natalie/Graham, otherwise I fear for your reputation, which has always been held in the highest acclaim.
    Peace and Love

  17. Hi Samantha

    As mentioned previously if you check with the police and log, (I will bring it down to you if you like, to put these ridiculous rumours to an end) – you will see that we were not allowed to finish our clear out as planned (we had until the 31st of Jan to make the place good) and were in fact told by Tim Speed at 2.30pm on Saturday that he did not want us to finish the removal and clear up job. All of this was witnessed by several people in the building, my plumber, electrician, removal men and police and is also documented on video.

    Please get in touch with me on natalie@thisisleaf.co.uk/ 0151 707 7747 to see the evidence if you wish. We have absolutely nothing to hide and want to be as honest and transparent with customers as possible.

    Once again, I will re-iterate how sorry we are to have left and even more sorry that rumours and hear-say have spoilt what was in the majority, an enjoyable journey for us.

    Natalie x

  18. Samantha Enriles

    Hi Natalie,
    Please don’t think I am taking sides here, I just think it’s a whole sorry mess, and it shouldn’t have got to the situation it has.
    Good businesses all around that area struggle enough without something like this happening.
    Best of luck in the new bold street home, and looking forward to the upstairs opening, next week is it?, and good luck to all in Elavator building and the Baltic sector. Such a shame there isn’t a stronger business district team for the region, it would really help with promotion transport etc…
    May all have a prosperous journey and not a single sledgehammer is seen in the area again. (that’s a little joke).
    Peace and Love.

  19. Seems to be a lot of doubting in LEAF in some of these comments, I’d suggest looking at the success of the brand and it’s growth over the last 3 yrs and it’s following — Then take a look at the mass exodus of designers, artists, musicians and larger businesses leaving Elevator. My company was once based there but also had to leave due to on-going issues with the landlord, like so many others. A shame because with the right direction the building could be amazing — Anon

  20. Like any regeneration area, Baltic’s development plans are long-term but in the short-term it is devastating when a thriving brand like Leaf feels forced out because the area suffers.. But you have to ask ‘why would a successful business leave?’

    The people who need to know the working practises of the elevator landlords KNOW. It’s not just Leaf who’s experienced this. (S Jones – with you on this.)

    Cautionary advice to any business thinking about replacing leaf — get your lawyer to read the terms & conditions VERY carefully.

    People like Glen suggesting a boycott of Bold St Leaf are laughable. Pure comedy. ‘Jenny’ (aka ‘someone else’) – if the landlords had let Leaf finish the removal they wouldn’t be complaining about the position they’re in now and a business could never just move straight in — anyone knowing about catering/ setting up restaurants knows this. They’d also know Leaf couldn’t set up another business IF they weren’t paying their suppliers beforehand. You’re pedalling B/S, aren’t you?

    To Bold St Leaf – goodbye & good luck. It is a shame you were forced out in the end but Bold St venue is fantastic so congratulations and well done to you all.

  21. Im not sure whats gone on with the cafe at Elevator but Im in a band that rehearses in the building and its brilliant . Hopefully there will be a new bar back in the building soon.

  22. I definitely agree that there need to be stronger public transport links in the Baltic area; I don’t see why one of the circular routes couldn’t run along Jamaica Street, then up to Hope Street, etc.

    I’m glad someone is making use of the former Microzine space and doing something different with it. I hope Leaf has found a permanent (and wonderfully decorated!) home on Bold Street.

  23. This wasn’t a feature on why Leaf moved – we’re not here to talk about business practices, naming names or personal accusations. Businesses make big decisions all the time and have disagreements amongst themselves. We respect our commenters right to discuss things like that, but it wasn’t the piece’s intention. Please keep names etc out of it – we’ve had to remove some accusations at request of lawyers already. So let’s steer it back a bit.

    Whatever happened, it’s gone from the Baltic and it’s a loss – and it’s bound to have a noticeable impact on that bit of the city. And raise questions on what people can do to attract people back to that end of town.

  24. David Crosbie

    As a previous member of staff I and other members of staff felt at risk and very vulnerable especially in the area where leaf Baltic was located.

    I was there helping during the move out at Baltic and both Natalie and Graham were truly upset that their hard work at Baltic had to come to end in such a way. We were told by the landlords to stop the move and leave immediately resulting in us not leaving the café as we found it.

    The so called “GLEN, JENNY & SAMANTHA” take up Natalie’s offer and see the evidence.

  25. I notice a conspicuous silence from the artists of Arena gallery – they’re not exactly rushing to support the current regime at the building. That, to me, speaks volumes, and you don’t need solicitors to realise that.