South Shields restaurateur ‘let down’ by 365 masterplan U-turn

Mambo's 1 restaurant, St Hilda Street
Mambo's 1 restaurant, St Hilda Street

A restaurant boss facing double trouble has served up an angry attack on council chiefs after the latest stage of a major town centre redevelopment plan was abruptly taken off the menu.

Kaiven Kasaei says he feels “let down” by South Tyneside Council over the decision to defer phase four of its £100m 365 masterplan - after he opened a brand new restaurant in the belief his existing premises would be torn down to make way for a new supermarket.

Mr Kasaei launched Mambo Wine and Dine in Winchester Street - just a short distance from his Mambo’s Italiano branch on St Hilda’s Street - last April to ensure he still had a presence in the heart of the town when the masterplan became a reality.

But he was stunned after that part of the regeneration scheme was put on hold earlier last week.

He says he opened the new premises as a ‘Plan B’ after the council made an offer to buy up Mambos Italiano as part of the redevelopment drive for the town.

The area behind Fowler Street was due to accommodate a major supermarket, but the plan has been put on hold due to a drop in demand for big venues.

To make way for the planned development, a number of businesses in the area were told they needed to relocate, so their premises could be bulldozed.

Mr Kasaei said: “The council told me this would go ahead. They said there was no doubt.

“Then last week I received a phone call telling me they couldn’t find an operator for the supermarket.

“We are in limbo as we haven’t been given assurances they won’t look to start the development again if things do change in the future.”

Mr Kassai says he only launched a second restaurant as a replacement for his first.

He added: “That is absolutely the other reason why I set up the second restaurant last April.

“You have to have a Plan B in business but I have now been left with two restaurants very close together.

“We are always looking to expand, but we would never have started a second restaurant in South Shields unless this scheme was happening. It has left me out of pocket and I feel let down by the council.

“I have made a sizeable investment in opening a second restaurant. These are not easy times to trade and it is made harder by having two restaurants so near.”

He says closing the restaurant is not an option.

He added: “I have staff to think of. I would have to lay people off if I closed one of the venues.”

A Council spokesman said: “The council has had discussions with all parties whose premises are within the regeneration area and we have been clear from the outset that we could only negotiate with tenants once their landlord’s interest had been acquired.

“In this instance Mambos are not the freeholder and no agreement with the freeholder had been reached.

“Plans for Phase 4 to attract a high quality supermarket are deferred as a result of national changing trends in supermarkets. However, the council remains committed to its ambitious plans to transform the town centre and the 365 regeneration project is still very much on track.

He added: “It remains the council’s intention to pursue the redevelopment of this land in the future as part of the comprehensive regeneration of the town centre and we will continue to work with land owners and businesses and our development partner Muse to achieve this.”