Newcastle bar to re-open five years after closure
A BAR and restaurant which has stood empty since being shut down by the police five years ago is to get a new lease of life.
Primus Bar and Grill opens on October 3 in the former Gatsby's and Bar 53 premises in Ironmarket, Newcastle.
Sixteen jobs have been created in the venture, which has seen the venue undergo a £150,000 revamp across its three floors.
Owner Dennis Lyth hopes the opening of the new bar will mark the start of a business boom in Newcastle.
He bought the property in 2007, following a high-profile police raid.
Bar 53 had its licence revoked by Newcastle Borough Council in August of that year after police found a quantity of drugs and arrested 11 people during the June raid.
Mr Lyth, aged 63, from Newcastle said: "There has been a lot of bad news around the town recently with various shops shutting.
"And it is not an uncommon situation around the country really.
"I think with the bar opening we are bringing something positive back to Newcastle and I hope that people will agree."
In 2008, celebrity chef Rustie Lee revealed she hoped to open a Caribbean restaurant in the premises, while in 2009 an application was lodged to turn the building into a family-friendly pub.
But none of these ventures ever got off the ground, with the recession blamed for the plans falling-through.
Mr Lyth said: "There have been a lot of false starts but we are excited to nearly have the bar ready to open."
A licence for Primus has now been granted by Newcastle Borough Council, which will be managed by Dax Robateau, aged 38, from Newcastle.
He said: "It is good for the locality because we are creating jobs.
"And we have had a very strong response."
A total of 140 applications were submitted for the 16 jobs which were on offer in Primus, including six chefs.
Mr Robateau said: "We want it to be a high quality dining experience and everything that we serve will be homemade, here on site."
The venue has permission to open from 11am until 11pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, and from 11am to midnight on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Opening times on Sundays are likely to be from 5pm until 11pm.
There will also be DJ entertainment three times a weekend a 'after office' club on weekdays to pull in extra trade.
The venture is the first time My Lyth and Mr Robateau have worked together, but they are looking forward to running the business.
Mr Lyth said: "It is a fantastic building because it used to be an old Yorkshire Bank. I am very tired from all the renovation works but we are making good progress."