Celebrity club closes after lack of interest

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The Independent Online

Yorkshire people are not easily impressed by celebrity status, as the former footballer Lee Chapman and his actress wife, Leslie Ash, have discovered to their cost.

Their dream of providing a luxury club free of cell phones and cameras to the cash-rich upwardly mobile of Leeds has collapsed, with the venture going into liquidation only a year after opening.

Chapman, a former striker for the city's football club, was hoping to attract to Teatro a client base of C-list and B-list celebrities similar to those who frequent his West End club in London. His vision was shared by Leeds United's owner, Leeds Sporting, which invested about £250,000 for a 25 per cent stake in the business. The timing seemed astute because Leeds is a city that has been expanding at an unprecedented pace. But the celebrities never materialised.

Despite the new cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city, paying £4.60 for a gin and tonic was perhaps going too far.

"Unfortunately there was simply not enough trade in Leeds to sustain this type of club and restaurant operation," Mr Chapman said yesterday.

In its first year, the private bar and club managed to attract 500 members, compared with 2,000 at the London branch of Teatro.

Celebrity regulars included Richard Whiteley, host of Countdown on channel 4. Mr Whiteley, who lives in nearby Ilkley, bemoaned the loss. "It was perfect for me," he said. "Lee did find a gap in the market but, unfortunately, it's the wrong time for Leeds."

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