Work underway on £500,000 project to create upmarket cafe, bar and bistro in former South Shields store

Work gets underway for Westoe Village's new bistro.
Work gets underway for Westoe Village's new bistro.

Work on a new £500,000 upmarket café, bar and bistro in South Tyneside is set to simmer until early in the new year, its owner has confirmed.

Kerry Brown, 39, said redevelopment was progressing to plan at the former Workwear and Schoolwear Company’s premises in Dean Road, Westoe, South Shields.

But she insisted her demand for quality workmanship and exceptional customer service meant it was unlikely to open for business this year.

Although that would mean missing out on the potentially busy Christmas season, she said its clientele would instead benefit in the long run.

Mrs Brown, who is opening the new enterprise with her husband Paul, 45, said: “We want to get it exactly right and that means we won’t rush the opening.

“It is very important that it is all done properly, and if that means it takes a bit longer to open, then that’s what we will do.

“Realistically, I think that means opening early next year rather than this year.

“I very much want this project to breathe some new life into Westoe and to be a fantastic experience for people, and I think it will do just that.

“We have a couple of ideas for its name but have not yet confirmed anything.

“But we do want to know what people think of what we are doing and welcome their thoughts and ideas.”

Internal stripping out has been completed, roof maintenance is ongoing and final design plans for the interior are being developed.

And new front windows and exterior developments are expected to be put in place over the next few weeks.

The restaurant development, which will potentially employ 15 full and part-time staff, will also see a small outside seating area established.

Part of the plan will see the couple’s Browns Letting Agency business move into a one side of the current building but form as a separate unit.

Currently based around 100 yards away in the Victorian-era Wyvestow Lodge, in Sunderland Road, it will also expand operations to include sales.

Mrs Brown said work on the new agency premises would be completed first, meaning it could be open by November.

The agency is also expected to double its workforce to four.

The couple say their motivation for opening a restaurant is to encourage people stay in South Tyneside rather than travel to Newcastle for quality dining.

They hope to capture upmarket city centre ambience but in South Shields.

The Workwear and Schoolwear Company, which operated at the site since 2007, has moved to new premises on Ocean Road, South Shields.