A RESTAURANT and cocktail bar in Newport city centre has closed - and a team of former employees have launched a new venture in its place.

The Pod on the corner of Rodney Road and Clarence Place opened in December 2017 under the management of former Dragons player Paul Young.

Known for its cocktails and outdoor seating overlooking the Usk, it is no longer taking bookings.

The business has suffered at least two burglaries in recent weeks and one man has been ordered to pay £500 in compensation in court.

South Wales Argus: The Pod opened in 2017 under former Dragons player Paul YoungThe Pod opened in 2017 under former Dragons player Paul Young

The news of The Pod’s closure comes just weeks after Newport brewery Tiny Rebel and Newport County supporters’ venue Bar Amber announced they were closing their premises on High Street.

The Royal Albert pub on Albert Avenue, once a popular watering hole in Maindee, has also been boarded up following a police raid.

A spokesperson for Tiny Rebel went as far as to say the city centre had been “slowly imploding” since the Covid pandemic - a description Newport City Council rejects.

The Newport Now Business Improvement District says there was a five per cent increase in footfall last year compared to 2019.

South Wales Argus: News of The Pod's closure comes weeks after Tiny Rebel said the city centre was 'imploding'News of The Pod's closure comes weeks after Tiny Rebel said the city centre was 'imploding' (Image: Sam Portillo)

For all the high-profile closures, there has also been change.

The 500-capacity Corn Exchange, also on High Street, opened this month with more than £73,000 in crowdfunding and experienced leadership of Le Pub operations manager Sam Dabb.

Former Newport RFC player John Colderley and his wife Sian have chosen Upper Dock Street for their third Cosy Cinema - as seen on Dragons’ Den - and are taking bookings from June.

The Lamb on Bridge Street, meanwhile, has reopened under the management of Vladyslava Krapyvka, who fled from the war in Ukraine.

South Wales Argus: The Corn Exchange opened this monthThe Corn Exchange opened this month (Image: Sam Portillo)

Now, a team of former employees at The Pod are preparing to soft launch their new venture - BAR.CODE - at the beginning of April ahead of a “grand opening” in May.

They plan to sell their own spirits, including vodkas, gins, rums and tequilas, which will only be available in the bar on Rodney Road.

BAR.CODE owner and managing director Jan Kosler, formerly the bar manager of The Pod, promises the new project will bring a “naughty and delicious” selection of street food.

“We are a team of former employees of The Pod Newport, a cherished establishment that unfortunately had to close its doors,” he said.

“The Pod held a special place in our hearts, and we are determined to carry on its legacy and hopefully improve it further.

“As we work tirelessly to resurrect BAR.CODE, we are forging new partnerships with new suppliers to bring fresh and exciting products to our shelves to create a unique experience.

“Additionally, we are planning to redecorate as we go along and adjust our prices to ensure a more accessible experience for all.

“Our vision for BAR.CODE is to provide our own BAR.CODE SPIRITS where you can uncover the mysteries of flavour through our unique selection of vodkas, gins, rums, and tequilas.

“These spirits, exclusive to our bar, await discovery by our customers' adventurous palates seeking new experiences as well as mouth-watering cocktails and a naughty and delicious street food menu.

“We are excited to announce that we will be able to do a soft launch opening at the beginning of April, with further enhancements and a grand opening planned for May 2024.”

For more information, find BAR.CODE Newport on Facebook, Instagram, X and TikTok.