Whilst finding your way around the seemingly untouched streets and snickleways of York, it tends to spark an intrigue of what purpose these streets once held in York’s medieval times. Arguably, this neighbourhood of streets has undergone one of the biggest transformations in terms of purpose; Swinegate and Back Swinegate which were once used for holding, you guessed it, swine, have now become home to a handful of this city’s leading independent clothing businesses. It’s safe to say that this street no longer sees any trotting, but more strutting.
The narrow street which Swinegate leads onto, Grape Lane, has a slightly seedier background however, with a history of gentlemen’s clubs and brothels. Thankfully, the quaint cobbles of this street are now appreciated in the daylight, and Grape Lane is now home to a number of independent eateries, many of which have joined in recent years. In this instalment of the Independent Neighbourhood series, we’re taking a closer look at the businesses of Swinegate, Back Swinegate and Grape Lane, as well as the owners, T shirt makers, and camembert bakers who are striving to make these streets better known for their potential in all things fashion and food!
FOOD & DRINK
Los Moros was first established in the Shambles food court in 2015, and since then Owner Tarik Abdeladim has lead Los Moros on to win multiple awards, and in 2017 Los Moros beat every other eatery in York – including high end restaurants – to become the number one rated eatery on TripAdvisor. After years of ongoing success with their kiosk in the Shambles food court, Tarik was able to permanently house a new restaurant of North African cuisine on Grape Lane in 2018. Differing from the kiosk’s menu of Moroccan and middle-eastern cuisine, at the Los Moros restaurant Tarik has put a focus on using the restaurant to develop the food in new directions and play with different techniques and ingredients.
The Hook & Line
The Hook & Line has lived in York for over ten years and was established by two York locals. Husband and wife team Andy and Rowenna opened the Hook & Line as a second business venture in the city after their very successful fish and chip takeaway, Mr Chippy, which you’ll find on Church Street. With over thirty-year’s experience between them in the catering industry, the pair jumped at the chance of opening the fish and chip restaurant when additional space became available on Swinegate. The restaurant, which was originally branded as Mr Chippy restaurant, served Mr Chippy’s fish and chips in a family-friendly restaurant setting. But 2017 marked the year for restaurant’s re-vamp, and the birth of the fresh rebranded restaurant, The Hook and Line. With an innovative new menu, the pair have created a ‘seafood casual fine dining’ eatery, serving up new fish dishes including smaller tapas plates. Just like its big brother business, Mr Chippy takeaway, The Hook & Line proves to be a hit amongst York punters and locals alike!
LICC, which stands for the Luxury Ice Cream Company was founded almost a decade ago and now sits on Back Swinegate, during that time, the team at LICC have been able perfect an extensive range of over 150 flavours of ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yoghurt. The ever-so creative team at LICC are always coming up with new flavour-combinations, incorporating British staples like custard creams, Bakewell tarts, and for one day only even fish and chips into their ice cream. LICC’s new owner, Steph, hopes to only add to this infamous ice cream parlour’s culinary creations; the newest additions to the menu include a whole host of vegan ice creams and other delicious desserts. Watch this space!
The Cheese Trader
The Cheese Trader sits quaintly on the cobbles of Grape Lane and has done since 2018. Here, they pride themselves with their extensive selection of British and Irish cheeses, and quite rightly so. You can find a Gubbeen cheese from County Cork, to a Blue Monday cheese from Thirsk. Their range of award winning chutneys and pickles, freshly baked artisan bread, and selection of wine, port, gin, and beer displayed in the window has seen many York punters be lured in at not only the sight, but the smell! Cheeses are really selling hot here, and we mean literally; from camembert to toasties, you can take out one of the choices from the menu to eat on the go, or you can make use of their heated courtyard at the back!
Tucked away in one of what is arguably one of York’s most picturesque café locations, Wildes sits on the end of the quaint Grape Lane. The successful combination of cafe and bistro was originally run by the same family for the first 20 years of business. Although now under new ownership, Wildes continues to be a hotspot for locals who are keen to keep this gem hidden as well as tourists eager to have stumbled upon such a treat. Wildes is known for its delicious menu of homemade classics, including burgers, sharing platters, and a whole host of hot and cold sandwiches.
SHOPPING & LIFESTYLE
Old Sole founder Louis Smith fell in love with traditional handmade shoemaking whilst working in the fashion industry in London. In order to get an apprenticeship in authentic shoemaking, Louis moved to Florence where he was taught by renowned shoemaker Roberto Ugolini, and soon became a master craftsman. As his time working as an apprentice under Roberto Ugolini’s brand, Louis already had the desire to move back to Yorkshire to create his own brand of shoes. Louis describes his brand of shoes as “bespoke Italian shoemaking expertise combined with great British style”.
Year Dot is one of Swinegate’s most recent additions; joining the street in 2018, this store showcases an independent brand of menswear which has been built up over a number of years by owners and designers Richard Kitching and Sarah Wall. The brand began at home, screen printing T shirts and Hoodies with their distinctive logos and being sold on their website; after years of growing success, the pair have now been able to fill out the shop with a range of other items from their own brand including bags, hats, socks, alongside hoodies and T shirts.
Winstons of York
Established in 2016 on Swinegate, owner David Skaith opened his shop of menswear and accessories with the intention of creating a destination shopping experience, which differs from the usual high-street retail experience. Clothing styles and brands are hand-picked by David himself, allowing him to provide customers with extensive knowledge of his products, and creating a somewhat bespoke style of customer service. Winstons sells a range of both well-known brands including Farrah and Edwin, alongside their own range of clothing.
Also bringing a bespoke style of customer service is Giselle; this ladies wear company has been established for over thirty years. Their shop, housed on Swinegate, is run by a small team of highly experienced fashion advisors. Selling both continuous collections of designer clothing brands as well as stand-alone pieces, the team at Giselle are familiar with their stock as well as their customers. They strive to get to know their shopper’s individual styles so they can put their expertise to work and pick out pieces perfect for every occasion.