Favourite Things: ‘Sheffield has a thriving, developing bar scene’

Tom Lord in Firepit Rocks on West Street in Sheffield
Tom Lord in Firepit Rocks on West Street in Sheffield

Tom Lord is general manager of Sheffield’s first ‘dive bar’. Opening just a few weeks ago, the new FirePit Rocks venue on West Street has brought the classic American theme to the streets of the Steel City for the first time.

The style of venue are hip and long-established in the States. It offers the welcoming feel of a local whilst entertaining its regulars with sports, rock’n’roll, quality drinks and casual dining. Tom Lord was formerly at Leopold Square’s Bamboo Door, Division Street’s Great Gatsby and Revolucion de Cuba in Manchester. He has quite a unique view on Sheffield considering his past. He has downsized on a pretty dramatic scale to get here. “I used to think it was quite a quick journey from my house in London to the centre of the capital. But in Sheffield I can travel the length of the city in less time! It kind of put things in perspective. Tom grew up in London, went to university in Manchester and arrived in Sheffield with his partner Jodie to further his career in the bar trade. I arrived from Manchester with no idea what to expect but the intention of working at the top end of the Sheffield bar industry. I was surprised by its small size in comparison to what I was used to.” He’s a big fan of the independent sector and thinks the Sheffield scene has hardly started. “When you compare the city to somewhere like Manchester and its thriving Northern Quarter you realise just how much scope there is for growth. “It has been good to launch FirePit Rocks – a venue that is trying to truly develop what we have here in Sheffield.” Tom lives with partner, Jodie, and their five-year-old daughter in Walkley. www.firepit.rock

Bartending community:

I have the pleasure of being a key part of this thriving scene. There are some great links between the many bars of the area. We might be competitors, but we are working together to grow the whole scene, a rising tide lifts all boats!

Much of the communication is online via our Facebook Group. When you open a new venue there is a lot of unknowns and people have helped without question. If you’re in a tight spot they give you support.

Bamboo Door:

This is a truly fun venue where you can guarantee the quality of drinks will be sky high. It is a true Tiki style bar, you’re closed off from the world and like being on holiday. It is impossible to be sad in Bamboo Door! Independent bar scene: Sheffield has a thriving and developing bar scene. In fact the size and prominence makes it very hard for the larger national chains to take over as there isn’t the space. People are proud to support the independent scene.

Oisoi, St Paul’s Place:

This Asian fusion restaurant was introduced to me by a friend. We ordered three main courses and three sides between two. You’d expect something left but we cleaned up. The value for money was insane. If I recommended one restaurant it would be there. It blew me away.

Public, Surrey Street:

Turning a former public toilet into this venue is a truly brilliant concept. It shows Sheffield what can be achieved and should open the door to a wealth of new ideas. I think ‘speakeasy’ style bars should be the next thing for the city. Great bars that are truly hidden away. You’ll find them in other cities now but not in Sheffield as yet. My dream would be one that appears and functions as a shop. You can only get to the bar if you know the password!

The Great Gatsby, Division Street:

This venue manages to be cool without really trying. It offers quality drinks at fair prices. They do what they want. They don’t pander to fashions particularly. If someone doesn’t like something they know there’ll be enough people in the city that do.

PROXIMITY TO THE PEAKS

I’ve done loads of runs for charity and train a lot in Rivelin Valley. I also make regular trips out to the Peak District on my motorbike. The opportunities we have on our doorstep are amazing. I never realised how good we had it here until I spent time back in London.