BUSINESSMAN Richard Downey is expanding his restaurant interests with an acquisition in South Yorkshire.
Richard, who owns the Rock Cafe in Victoria Lane, Huddersfield, has acquired the anchor unit at Leopold Square in Sheffield to expand his leisure operation.
Funding for the acquisition came from NatWest and the South Yorkshire Investment Fund. Work on the site starts in May and the 3,500sq ft new-built unit is due to open in September.
Said Richard: “The building is unique. It’s glazed from floor to ceiling, really bright and airy and a great space to work with.
“The bar and grill will have an island bar with zinc bar top and an imported tin ceiling brought in for the United States.
“Pianists will play from 5pm to 9pm on a baby grand piano and a cocktail menu with a choice of over 200 cocktails will be available.”
The venue will serve mainly British dishes and seafood with an accent on fresh and locally sourced produce – with old favourites like bangers and mash, fish and chips, line-caught same-day Whitby scampi and a range of chargrilled steaks.
“We’re going mid-market in Sheffield,” said Richard. “We saw a gap in the market in the city centre for a venue and music policy aimed at a slightly more mature clientele who aspire to something a little better.
“We’ve been negotiating the deal since 2008. At first, the landlords wouldn’t split the building and we went back six months later and they gave in and said ‘yes’.
“There are some real opportunities out there at the moment in terms of good locations and for the first time in a long time the landlords have to sit down and really negotiate terms.”
Said Richard: “Being the last into a great square like Leopold has its advantages.
“We already know what’s there and what is missing. For instance, there are three Italian restaurants, a Spanish tapas and a Wagamama noodles bar.
“You can’t get traditional British food and no one is doing the music policy stuff that we know – and that has taken years for us to perfect! We’re hoping to take Sheffield by storm!”
Richard has recruited Christian Adams, head cocktail barman at the Living Room in Leeds, to oversee staff training and procurement.