Two long-time friends from the hospitality world are joining forces to put over 60 years of experience into bringing a £2m new restaurant to Yorkshire.
Martin Hicks and Martin Pickles have been friends for over 30 years and will launch ‘Convive’, a new build authentic Mediterranean restaurant that will bring a Mediterranean lifestyle to the suburbs of Leeds, this will be the second time that the duo have worked together professionally. The venture heralds the return to Leeds of Martin Pickles, one of Yorkshire’s most successful, popular and experienced restaurateurs.
The new restaurant, which opens in early February 2017, will be part of the University of Leeds-owned Weetwood Hall estate but retain an independent identity of its own, open to customers looking for a high quality dining experience outside of the city centre as well as to guests staying at the popular hotel complex.
As Convive’s head of operations, Martin Pickles will be responsible for managing the restaurant day to day and looking after the strategic direction of the business along with staffing and management duties. Originally from Keighley, Martin is well known and respected in Yorkshire having owned one of Leeds’ most celebrated restaurants, The Flying Pizza in Roundhay, for over 10 years. Martin has been involved in the restaurant trade since 1981.
Convive is a 120 seat restaurant and bar where guests will be able to enjoy a full dining experience including an alfresco area under a retractable roof within the gardens. It will be twinned with Mediterranean restaurants across Europe creating inspiration through innovative chef swaps and ingredient sourcing on quality food and drink. Many ingredients used in the kitchens will be sourced from local Yorkshire farmers. The restaurant opening will create 25 new jobs.
After a decade of success at The Flying Pizza, Martin ran the Garrick Club’s restaurants and private dining rooms for five years in Covent Garden. This came after 14 years’ service at the famous Langans Restaurants in London, owned by Richard Shepherd CBE and his partner, Sir Michael Caine, where he also worked alongside Martin Hicks for the first time.
Martin Hicks is the Managing Director of Weetwood Hall and has been responsible for establishing and maintaining Weetwood Hall as one of the leading conference venues in the city. The profits from the Weetwood estate including Convive will be gift aided to the University of Leeds, which owns Weetwood Hall. The money will be used to fund important research and development projects and for students’ benefit. A multiple of millions has already been gift aided to the University of Leeds in the past 23 years from profits generated by Weetwood Hall.
Martin Pickles said: “A high-end Mediterranean restaurant is what Leeds has been crying out for and I’m delighted to be back in the city I love and delivering the most exciting restaurant Leeds will have seen in many years. Leeds has a bustling restaurant and dining culture it can be proud of and I’m thrilled to be back in the thick of the action bringing such a fantastic new dining experience to the table. Working with Martin Hicks and the team behind the success at Weetwood Hall coupled with my 30 years in the business mainly spent in London, is a fantastic opportunity for me personally and I’m looking forward to it immensely.
“The really great thing is that this is outside the city centre, ideally placed at Weetwood, to make it a true destination restaurant without the hassle of parking problems in the city centre. All parking will be free and the restaurant is well served by local transport networks.”
Martin Hicks added: “This is really exciting news for Leeds and I’m genuinely excited on so many levels. Firstly, the food and beverage offering will be first-class and Convive will more than meet a demand that I identified several years ago. The ambience will focus on a fine balance between social dining with friends or family and the alfresco dining option and fresh Mediterranean dishes. Secondly, the increased gift aid to the University of Leeds is a unique and very positive gesture that benefits the University, its students and the city as a whole, I’m not aware of any other commercial restaurant that operates in this way. And finally, I’m simply excited about the prospect of working with an old friend.”
To be kept updated about Convive please visit www.conviveleeds.co.uk
Pictures 1-3: Martin Pickles (left) and Martin Hicks (right) – opening Convive in February 2017