04 Nov Finding True Loves on Sheffield’s Victoria Quays
One day soon, when lockdown is over and the restrictions are eased, we can all look forward to a beautiful new waterside bar and delicatessen opening in Sheffield’s Canal Basin.
With their fingers tightly crossed for a December opening, True Loves is readying itself to serve up small plates and sharing platters of the finest Yorkshire cheeses and meats, accompanied by a large selection of wines, beers and craft ales, all set against the under-utilised and idyllic surrounds of Victoria Quays.
Situated in the archway next door to popular bar, Dorothy Pax, the new venue will bring something new to the area and after a lengthy wait to get the venue open due to the ongoing pandemic (they originally hoped to be open in April), its owner can’t wait to get going.
“We’re ready to open now, basically as soon these new restrictions are lifted.” says owner Bally Johal, who also runs vintage shop Thrifty Store and bar Bal Fashions, which are both nearby in the Castlegate area, “It’s going to be a really great space and if we can get open and survive this period then I just think it’s going to be a great place for family and everyone else to come and enjoy waterside drinks and sharing platters.
“It’s something new for Sheffield. We’ve got a pretty comprehensive wine list and the sharing board will come with flights of wine or flights of ale. We’re going to pair the meat and cheeses with wines and ales, but equally you’ll be able to pick your own.”
The name True Loves is taken from a couple of local legends. The first immortalises the name in a nineteenth century poem, which tells of two lovers who got washed away off Lady’s Bridge, whereas the second is the slightly darker tale of Trueloves Butchers, who were said to throw their offal in the River Sheaf, hence the area becoming known as True Loves Gutter.
“That’s the link to the name,” says Bally, “the fact that it’s Yorkshire meats and it’s a nod to a bit of the history of the area.
“This area is really close to my heart. Years ago, I saw the opportunity in a downtrodden area, which my mother in law, who’s from Sheffield, said at the time, ‘why’d you want to go down there nobody goes down there’, but for me, it’s one of my favourite parts of the city.”
Bally has been a cheerleader for the area ever since opening his vintage shop, Thrifty Store, back in 2015 and has seen an upturn in Castlegate’s fortunes throughout that time, with the opening of more venues and the council’s recent Grey to Green development nearby.
He said: “Everybody romanticises about the markets, while at the same kind of belittling it. We turn our back on areas because of the perceived demise of it, or because it’s no longer cool, or it’s no longer the affluent place to hang out, but when you actually look at the heritage in this area, Sheffield was born here. For me, I kind of love the area, more so than all the shiny, polished areas.
“Everything I do is a labour of love. Thrifty Store’s my passion. I love fashion, and I grew up in an environment where I was working class and I didn’t have any money to buy designer labels, so I used to go to charity shops, and that’s where my passion for vintage and Thrifty Store came from.
“Bal Fashions is musically where I sit and it’s a speakeasy where you can sit in there on a Friday and Saturday and talk to each other in comfort. But equally, if you want to party, our slogan is upstairs for dancing. It’s a really inclusive, gender-neutral venue and we don’t tolerate dickheads.
“True Loves, I suppose is the aspirational me. It’s somewhere I’d go to sit with my family and chill. I’m feeling really positive and can’t wait to get open now. I’m ambitious and I’m driven so you know it will happen.”
Roll on December, when, hopefully, True Loves will finally be able to open. When they are up and running make sure to nip in for a coffee from local roasters Forge, as well as one of their locally sourced meat and cheese boards, or maybe even a cheeky vino or two.