A Sunderland pub and restaurant company is breathing new life into a well-known historic building amid wider regeneration plans across the city.
Theatre Leisure, which runs popular venue The Rabbit, is to open its latest hospitality venue next month after taking out a lease on vacant premises and investing in new facilities.
Co-owners Lee Robson and Dave Guy will launch their latest venture – a new concept sports bar – during the last weekend in May 2021, following restoration work and refurbishment.
The 12,500 sq ft four storey space in the historic Victoria Buildings sits on a prominent site, on the corner of Low Row and High Street West in Sunderland city centre.
The downstairs area will become a world sports bar, called Streetbar SR1, with a style following the popular sports bar culture of New York City.
The upper floors will become a refined exclusive bar area with a roof terrace named Victoria’s loft, in recognition of the building name.
£6 million will be invested by Theatre Leisure across 3 sites, creating 50 jobs.
Theatre Leisure has taken out a lease on the prime site and has also secured a heritage grant to breathe new life into the historic building.
The four-storey building, which boasts timber flooring and exposed brickwork, currently includes two bars, a restaurant and an outside terrace.
Situated within a popular and established leisure and retail area of Sunderland city centre, the licensed premises is close to the train station, university and The Bridges.
Sunderland is currently undergoing major transformation to breathe new life into the city centre, and the £1.5billion Riverside Sunderland Masterplan is set to create 1,000 new homes and 100,00 new jobs.
Lee Robson said: “When the opportunity came up to take a lease out on this important and substantial space, we just couldn’t pass it up, and the timing is fortuitous with the easing of restrictions.
“Set over four floors with lots of room and an outside terrace, there’ll be plenty of space for people to enjoy a drink or a meal with friends and family.
“I have no doubt there will be an appetite for a new one-of-a-kind sports bar in Sunderland.
“We’ll be looking to employ local people and we think it’s great news for residents, visitors and the city as a whole as we look to the future.
“We’re really excited to be launching our new bar and we’ll be revealing more details soon.
“We’re currently overseeing a full refurbishment and we will be unveiling our new look in advance of the opening at the end of May.”
Giles McCourt, associate solicitor and real estate expert at leading law firm for businesses Muckle LLP, negotiated the lease on behalf of Theatre Leisure.
He said: “I’m delighted to help Lee and Dave to take over the lease of this fantastic historic building.
“The pair have taken this brave and ambitious decision at a time when the hospitality sector has endured its toughest year to date.
“It’s like a phoenix rising from the flames and it is wonderful to see such an important building being brought back into use for the benefit of Sunderland residents and visitors alike.
“I have no doubt that this new sports bar and restaurant will prove to be extremely popular and I wish Lee and Dave every success for their latest venture.”