A MUCH-LOVED cocktail bar has shut its doors for the final time after nine years in Leigh.

Launching in 2015, The Lock was offered as something different in Leigh town centre, with a focus on premium cocktails and a relaxed setting.

The first few years in business were "booming" for the Twist Lane bar, so much so that owner Danielle Stotto gave up her full-time job as a midwife and opened Carmen Bar and Eatery in Atherton as a result of its success.

However, after the prolonged difficulties of covid, customers did not return to the Lock in the same numbers and a tough decision was made to close the bar for good.

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Leigh Journal: Live music and a DJ was organised for the bar's closing weekendLive music and a DJ was organised for the bar's closing weekend (Image: Leigh Journal)
Explaining some of the reasons for the bar's closure, Danielle said: "The bar has been completely dead since covid. 

"Our customers never came back in the same numbers. People's habits changed and our clientele completely changed towards younger people with more disposable income.

"Older people seem to have been going elsewhere or travelling out of Leigh for a night out, and they didn't want to be paying for expensive drinks, which I had to increase because of my bills.

"I used to have eight staff members and queues at the bar before covid, but recently it's been just me here and it's been so empty."

Leigh Journal: Danielle said the bar was booming until covid hitDanielle said the bar was booming until covid hit (Image: Leigh Journal)
As well as problems relating to the pandemic, the cost of living crisis has been another huge issue for Danielle to deal with, and a lack of custom has made the business unsustainable while managing spiralling bills.

Danielle, from Leigh, explained that drinks, cocktail ingredients, and wholesaler costs have continued to increase since the financial crisis began, adding to the rising costs of electricity bills, VAT thresholds, business rates, waste services, music licensing, and more.

This financial impact has resulted in Danielle barely taking a wage in recent years, while money earned at Atherton's Carmen has often had to be used to support its sister business. 

Leigh Journal: The bar was known for its premium cocktail menu and relaxed settingThe bar was known for its premium cocktail menu and relaxed setting (Image: Le)
Other issues that Danielle believes have led to the demise of the Lock have been the continued reports of anti-social behaviour in Leigh, which she said has discouraged people from visiting the town centre.

The council's Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ), which refused licences for new hospitality venues in the town centre unless there were exceptional exemptions, was also suggested as a reason why fewer people have been coming into Leigh for a night out.

The CIZ was put in place to address the "high levels of alcohol-related crime" between 2016 and 2022, but many feel that this severely restricted growth in Leigh's hospitality sector, especially when you compare it to neighbouring areas like Atherton and Tyldesley where the night time economy has started to thrive.

Leigh Journal: The Lock has closed its doors for the final time on Twist LaneThe Lock has closed its doors for the final time on Twist Lane (Image: Leigh Journal)
To celebrate the good times of the Lock, a farewell party was hosted by Danielle and the team over the weekend (April 6 and 7), which brought back the bar's heyday of live music, DJ's, and a busy atmosphere.

However, it was a bittersweet occasion for Danielle who has closed the first bar she opened nine years ago. She will now refocus her efforts at Carmen on Atherton's Market Street.