The Old Bank Restaurant in Kirkham is the latest business to receive a £10,000 grant from a fund dedicated to boosting town centres across the Borough.

The ARG Vacant Premises Grant available via Fylde Council enables businesses locating to, or expanding into, vacant town centre premises to apply to receive 50 per cent of the set-up, shop fit, refit or branding costs at a value of up to £10,000.

Following the building’s complete refit, the family-run Old Bank Restaurant will be opening in mid-June serving fresh British food, Thursday to Sunday.

Owners Andrew and James Booker, who also run the town’s popular Tap & Vent Brewhouse said: “We bought the premises in December 2019 with the aim of it becoming a restaurant but then, of course, Covid arrived.

“We’re excited to open now that circumstances allow, and the vacant premises grant has certainly taken some of the pressure off from a business perspective. We’ve spent a lot of money on refitting the premises and the grant has really helped.

“A couple of people that used to work at the Midland Bank have already been in touch through our Facebook page and told us they’re looking forward to booking a table and seeing how the building has been transformed. As the interior of the restaurant has been renovated, we’ve tried to maintain some of its original character and include some quirky touches that give a nod to the venue’s previous identity.

“We’ve kept some of the bank’s most distinctive features; the vaults are being used as our pot washing and preparation area, and we’ve kept the steel reinforced door and repurposed the vault lift as a dumb waiter.

“Along with some pieces from local artists celebrating the area’s heritage, we also commissioned a griffin statue to go above the door in recognition of the Midland Bank’s 1980’s advertising campaigns featuring this mythical creature.

“We recognised the need for a first-rate restaurant in Kirkham and the feedback from our customers at the Tap & Vent was that it would be a great idea. A high-quality eatery should be really well received and we’re excited to finally welcome customers, whether they’re visitors to the area or locals that will hopefully become our regulars.

“You have to be prepared to grow the market and we have lots of exciting plans for the restaurant and its menu, including things like theme nights, so watch this space!”

Councillor Richard Redcliffe, Chair of the Town Centre Working Group, presented the cheque and congratulated Andrew, Julie and son James on their success so far: “It’s wonderful to see a new restaurant opening in the town centre, especially as restrictions continue to ease and people are looking to rediscover all the great independent venues that Kirkham has to offer.

“I’m delighted to see another hard-working business take advantage of the ARG Vacant Premises Grant, which is just one of the ways the council is supporting the recovery of the local economy. We’re still receiving lots of excellent applications and we will continue to share these success stories.

“The Booker family are obviously very passionate and experienced in the hospitality sector, so I’m looking forward to seeing this venture flourish in the coming months.”

Funding from the ARG Vacant Premises Grant is still available and businesses that meet the following key criteria can apply until 31 December 2021:
Moving or expanding into a vacant premise in the town centre

  • Offering an in-person service that would generate footfall
  • Is a small independent sole trader/operator or locally based chain
  • Premises must be in specific locations and include ground floor shop frontage

Applications will also be assessed on whether the business operates in a priority sector for the local economy which includes retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism and whether it fills a gap in the market to attract people to the town centres throughout the week.

The grant would also support costs from operating in a Covid-secure manner such as one-way systems, plastic screens, procurement of PPE and hygiene provisions, or employment of additional staff to manage Covid-secure measures.

Full terms and conditions and details about how to apply can be found here

For more information on Covid-19 support grants click here


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