IN various guises, Cafe Stella has been a part of Leigh's nightlife for the past 30 years so has had to adapt to the many changes that have been thrown its way.

Working at the King Street bar for 26 years, Zoe Grundy has witnessed firsthand the decline of Leigh's vibrant pub and club scene, which has been hampered by the pandemic, cost of living crisis, and a five-year council banning order on new licences.

Zoe has run the bar with her husband Alex for the past 16 years, and although fewer people are coming through their doors, they are determined to improve things in Leigh and offer "something different" to attract people to the town centre.

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Leigh Journal: Inside the King Street bar and clubInside the King Street bar and club (Image: Cafe Stella)
Some of these offers centre around “new experiences" such as fire-breathers, live entertainment, themed events, and gaming nights, while a reinvestment of covid loans has also helped to refurbish the King Street building.

There have also been the unique 'Fusion' events on the last Tuesday of every month, which are inclusive club nights set up by Tyldesley's 'Just B.U' group for those with disabilities or learning difficulties.

With this year marking the event's 10th anniversary, those involved are said to "absolutely love" the Fusion nights, while the local hospitality community have "come together" to support this and volunteer their services for free.

Leigh Journal: Cafe Stella's 'Fusion' nights have been going on for 10 yearsCafe Stella's 'Fusion' nights have been going on for 10 years (Image: Cafe Stella)
While Alex admits that Leigh's nightlife has been "on the decline for some time", he believes that things are "on the way back up" with footfall slowly improving and the council's Cumulative Impact Zone now being lifted.

Attempting to address anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related crime, the Impact Zone refused almost all new bar and club licences in the town centre, so there are renewed hopes that Leigh's nightlife offer can now start expand and diversify.

Zoe and Alex are also part of groups such as Leigh Means Business and the Innovation Board, which are both actively discussing ways to improve the day and night time economy in Leigh town centre.

Leigh Journal: The open-fronted doors on King StreetThe open-fronted doors on King Street (Image: Cafe Stella)
Alex added: "Because of the Impact Zone, I'd say Leigh is a few years behind Atherton and Tyldesley in terms of its nightlife.

"But I know there are lots of people trying to improve things and make the town centre more appealing.

"We have ideas in the pipeline too so hopefully, if everyone works together and we keep up what works well, there will be a lot more positivity about Leigh."

Leigh Journal: Alex and Zoe outside the King Street barAlex and Zoe outside the King Street bar (Image: Leigh Journal)