Public's owners on teaming up with Arctic Monkeys' Matt Helders for Ambulo

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

18 December 2018

The team behind The Rockingham Group have been setting Sheffield alight in recent years, and it appears they're set to do it again with the opening of two new venues – both named Ambulo – in the first quarter of next year.

Let's get the glitzy bit out of the way first – co-owners James Hill and James O'Hara (nominees for Bar Owners of the Year at Imbibe's Personality of the Year awards) have teamed up with old friend Matt Helders, the drummer from the Arctic Monkeys, for the venture.

'He’s been itching to get involved in some way for a long time. We’d been talking about doing something food-led, and it seemed right to work together on this,' explains O'Hara to Imbibe.

'He’s actually really involved, it’s not like he’s a silent partner. He spends his life travelling the world essentially eating and drinking. I went over to LA last week and did a load of "research" with him.'

The two Ambulos are set to be all-day, food-led venues, and will be situated in the Millennium Gallery and Weston Park Museum.

'[Museums Sheffield is] showing a lot of trust in us, these sites went to tender and a lot of nationals went for it. I think they realised we can do something a bit different,' says O'Hara. 'Gallery cafes can feel a bit of an afterthought, whereas we want them to become a destination in their own right.'

Ambulo is set to offer speciality coffee from Dartwood Coffee roasters in Huddersfield, and lots of cocktails, wines and even kombucha on tap. Food will also play a big part, with Public head chef Tom Aronica planning the menus.

'The lower-abv drinking thing, we can see it being quite prevalent here,' says O'Hara. 'The no-alcohol and low-alcohol section in Public has done miles better than we thought it would. We just have to make sure that these people are accommodated for.'

The other venues in The Rockingham Group portfolio are Public, The Great Gatsby, Picture House Social and Daisy's Bar, but these will be their first daytime venues.

'Our opening hours will be 8am until midnight, and that’s one of the things we’re excited about,' says O'Hara. 'We're very good at night-time places, and doing that transition from day to night will be a new challenge.'

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