Filippos Filippopoulos

Filippos Filippopoulos has left Leed’s Watermark Bar with immediate effect, citing the financial pressures of the pandemic.

The Watermark Bar, which Filippopoulos co-founded with Dariush Haghighi in late 2018, became an instant success in Leeds, garnering loyal support from the trade and critical acclaim. It is one of a dozen or so bars to have scored 9/10 for its opening review in CLASS magazine.

“I’m leaving because of the Covid situation," Filippopoulos told “We are reaching the anniversary of the first lockdown, and looking back we only were only open four or five months of the last 12. We have been taking furlough but the grants didn’t cover the rent and then this year there is the corporation tax and Vat. When the lease came up this February, we had to take a decision whether to reinvest. Dariush is reinvesting but I decided to cut my losses - I didn’t want to get into debt.

“I want to take a step back and see what happens with Covid and the hospitality industry. This last year with Covid – it can take your spirit away. We went from operating a successful bar to making cocktails in plastic bags."

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Filippopoulos leaves on good terms. “There was no [severance] transaction - I left everything to Dariush. The bar was a loss for me in terms of money but not in terms of the experience. It was my first bar – a big thing – but now it is the end of the road. I would love to see The Watermark getting the recognition and having the success it deserves.

The Greek bartender plans to remain in Leeds and, while taking a break until April, will be on the lookout for new opportunities. “I’m a hospitality man – I’ve been in hospitality for 17 years. I have ideas but no plans. Possibly a café-aperitivo all-day concept could work, as there is nothing like this here. You are either a café or a pub/bar. I have my eyes open if something comes up but I will take some time. And I’ll be the first guest at the Watermark for a pint of Guinness in April.”