'High-end' restaurant-bar set to open in Leicester city centre
Part of a city centre building that has stood empty for more than 10 years is set to be opened as a restaurant and bar next month.
Work is under way to transform the ground floor and basement of the former Phoenix Assurance building, in Friar Lane, into the Bankers' Club.
General manager Will Himan said the restaurant would offer something a little different to the city's evening scene, serving canapés and lighter, "afternoon tea-style" food, as well as cocktails, wines and Champagnes.
"It's a high-end restaurant-bar," said Will. "We will be serving evening finger food, so no cutlery, really. People who want to stay out a bit later don't always want a heavy meal.
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"We want it to be a restaurant but with a bar feel and we wanted to do something different."
The building, which was built in the 1920s, is one of many in the city centre – including several former banks – that have stood empty for several years.
While there are apartments in the floors above the new venue, the main body of the building has not been in use.
It falls within one of the city centre conservation areas, designated for their historical or architectural quality.
Will is keen to keep a traditional feel to the building. "There is a glass dome in the roof above one area, which we're keeping, and we are keeping the original doors," he said.
"We want to restore the building and give it back its original feel.
"The plan is that this will be the first of many restaurant-bars."
Leicester Civic Society chairman Stuart Bailey said it was "always good" to see empty buildings being brought back into use.
He said: "The society is all for new uses for old buildings and a restaurant seems like an excellent idea."
Spread across two floors, the Bankers' Club will cater for about 70 people – with the bar areas taking the total capacity to 180.
The new venue has created work for up to 50 people, with about 20 staff who will be employed permanently once it is open.
The city council received objections from eight people in the area, who said the venue could lead to problems with noise and nuisance. But officials at the council granted a licence.
The venue will be open until 11pm on weekdays and 1am on weekends.
It will open in the first two weeks of February, with the official opening night set to be announced soon.