How a-bao it? Looking forward to the return of Abbeydale Road’s Barrowboy
The Barrowboy concept began in the way many good ideas between pals do – over a beer. Owners Morgan Davies and Charlie Marks had discussed the concept for years and it had taken on many iterations and many names over time.
“We always wanted to do something in Sheffield,” says Charlie. “We started seriously looking at Meersbrook, Nether Edge and Abbeydale but things kept getting in the way. It just wasn’t the right time.” When a unit 453 Abbeydale Road came up, the boys decided it was now or never. The name Barrowboy was a nod to the 100-year history the venue had of being a grocery store. “The old ideas went out the window. We decided to just make the bar we’d want to go to. We wanted to create something for the neighbourhood, somewhere everyone knows your name and feels welcome,” Morgan explains.
They contacted Deckards (then a roaming bao bun street food outlet, now permanent residents at the bar) over Instagram, started throwing together “rag-tag” designs, gutted the place, employed Rocket Design, went through the many legalities and got together a team, in what “felt like a whirlwind process.” Selecting a crack team was very important to them; they wanted Barrowboy to be a friendly and welcoming spot, as well as serving great drinks.
The two general managers they’ve employed have both played vital roles in the bar’s success. The current manager, Pete, has become part of the furniture on Abbeydale Road. “He spends all our money on making the place better,” Morgan says. “The place has a brilliant vibe and that’s created by Pete and the team. It’s a pleasure to be there.”
The Barrowboy team let Deckards focus on the food while they focus on the atmosphere, drinks and events. There’s a mouth-watering cocktail menu, draught beers, craft beers and a delicious selection of wines. During the hallowed pre-covid days, Friday and Saturday nights were lively affairs with dancing and partying heavily encouraged by boppin’ DJ sets. “We can’t wait to get back to that,” says Pete. “People need to dance.”
Barrowboy has also hosted live music sessions and started a monthly comedy night which was very popular. It’s something the team want to get back to, once the world has returned to some normality. “We can’t wait,” Morgan says. “Abbeydale Road is amazing now. Gravel Pit, Bragazzi’s, Turner’s, Dead Donkey, Two Thirds and all the rest of us. Shops, bars, restaurants: there’s some of the best that Sheffield has to offer right here and it’s all independent. Long may it continue.”