Having recently celebrated their first birthday, we’re celebrating the wonderful Spark:York.

Dreamt up by Tom McKenzie and Sam Leach, who wanted to create a new independent spark of life in the historical city they’d been born and bred in, Spark:York is a great place for food and drink, retail and relaxation.

Such innovation in this spot is fitting, we suppose, having grown from a site that used to be an Aviation factory and a tram depot, but now houses thriving independents within the initiative’s shipping-container-ed walls.

From event space hire, hair-salons, handcrafted homewares and vintage finds, Spark can be found in York Piccadilly. And since opening last May, it has become a huge magnet for locals and visitors alike trying to find something special in a unique slice of the city.

Well, Spark has that special something. And it has it in spades.

Here’s what’s on offer at one of our favourite independent havens:


Helston Street


A mother-and-daughter run establishment with a flair for rustic country aesthetics with an industrial edge, Helston Street got its name from an old street sign Vanessa Seddon and Lucy Scarah used to have in their kitchen.

Their interiors come from eagle-eyed finds at flea-markets and brocantes in the UK, France and Sweden, with the aim of sourcing unique and stylish pieces that can be incorporated into many different settings.

They focus on a palette of natural earthy materials, including wood, glass, rustic metals and wicker.

So, if you’re looking for that finishing touch for the living room – look no further than this shipping container.


Just Smile Designs


As the name suggest, Just Smile Designs are all about uplifting and sweet bespoke cards, wedding stationery, gifts, homewares and illustrations from artist and owner Kerry Elstob.

From pocket mirrors decorated with garlanded hedgehogs to plush cactus decorations (love it) – Just Smile’s pieces are a wonderful way to put a bit of brightness in your pocket or home. Plus, their shop is in a huge pink shipping container on the ground floor of Spark. There’s honestly no better sight.

Clucking Oinks


After all that shopping, you’d be forgiven for working up an appetite. And from one bright pink container to another spot with popping pink signage, Clucking Oinks is a great place to start for grub.

They specialize in buttermilk fried chicken, also offering chicken burgers and hot wings, with owner Mike Brand a dab hand at this: he’s been a chef for more than 17 years and fell in love with the emerging street food scene during a stint in London. And thus, Clucking Oinks was born.

If you need us, we’ll be sinking our teeth into hot chicken wings. Seriously good stuff.


Chow Street Food


Love gyozas? Adore ramen? Have an unhealthy obsession with stir-frys? Then get yourself to Chow Street Food. Chef Danny Franklin has a background in fine dining, with his training and teaching coming from a very French standpoint, but his true love are the flavours and fusions from across Asia.

This passion is what led him to opening his own establishment, where Chow Street serves up salt and pepper pork cheeks, udon noodles, ramen with picked radish and crispy shallots and soft boiled eggs.

He also caters for vegans and vegetarians (no more mushroom risotto for you, hooray!) so everyone can enjoy a taste of authentic Asian cooking.

Cardamom and Dill

You can take a journey around the Mediterranean from the comfort of your table at this place. Cardamom and Dill is a real experience, offering delicious vegetarian food in their restaurant with a Supper Club, chef’s pop-up kitchen and event space.

With lunch and brunch menus offering Turkish-style eggs, coriander and lemon-baked feta, sweetcorn fritters with grilled halloumi, guacamole and tomato salsa and many more option, C and D guarantees to serve up delicious and colourful dishes.

Sloppy’s Burgers

Despite the name, Sloppy’s has refined the classics when it comes to gourmet burgers and proper chips – with an emphasis on flavour you’ll find a 3 blend ratio of chuck, brisket and short rib between those buns.

Made from the finest local produce, keep an eye out for regular specials such as the CHILLAAAAY!, Bacon Cheese, Lobster Rolls or Cheese Louise on offer.




But for when cocktails are on the cards, 4Swings believes that you should be able to get a good drink at all times.

Founder Alex Cronin’s motto is to serve up cocktails that are “inventive and original, with a touch of drama.” As a result, you’re likely to find unusual components such as bacon, nutella or beetroot in your drink with delicious results, we promise you that.

And as 4swings is one of the permanent bars at Spark:York, they also run cocktail masterclasses if you want to whip one up yourself at home or impress your friends.