Mon. Sep 26th, 2022

A new Chesterfield bar is finding its feet among the big-name pubs and restaurants in the town centre with a unique selling point few other establishments can boast. One of the owners of Empire Bar is fluent in British Sign Language and has told Derbyshire Live it’s already starting to pay off with the bar seeing a lot of deaf customers coming in for a drink.

Located on St Mary’s Gate, in the shadow of the world-famous Crooked Spire church, Empire Bar has been put together in a unit that used to be Newbold Bedrooms and is next door to The Spa Lane Vaults Wetherspoon pub. Owners Simon Chidlow and Carlton Francis opened their new venture around five weeks ago and admit that things started slow for the business.

“When we opened there were a few heads poking through the door asking ‘are you open?’ ‘What are you?’ It wasn’t a mad rush,” said Carlton Francis. Simon Chidlow added: “There wasn’t a mad rush so after two weeks we got a sign outside saying it was a bar and coffee shop and that did make a difference, and since we’ve been hammering the social media the more people have been intrigued and the more footfall we’ve had through the door.”

Read more:Derbyshire town to get sixth Subway restaurant

Now the coffee shop and bar is fully open and a very nice, relaxed place to be. The decor adds to the “chilled out” atmosphere with soft colours both downstairs in the bar area and upstairs where there is more seating and a big-screen TV.

The downstairs bar area also has seating inside and outside, and there is also live music on offer some nights of the week
(Image: Derby Telegraph)

While it might not be the biggest bar in Chesterfield, it does have a good selection of drinks on tap and an extensive cocktail menu to tempt you if you don’t fancy a coffee or hot chocolate. One of the owners of Empire Bar also has a very useful talent that’s already come in very handy in the five or so weeks they’ve been open.

“I do sign language quite fluently,” says Mr Francis. “It’s just nice to have a place where the deaf community can come and order drinks without there being a communication barrier.

“I’ve been in the deaf community for years and it’s always been something I’ve wanted to bring here. I’ve met some deaf friends along the way and brought them down and they’ve passed the word onto their friends and got some more deaf customers to come in.”

The use of sign language at Empire Bar means gone are the days of deaf customers pointing at what they want and trying to communicate with the …….


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