New bistro and bar renovation work starts at Sunderland Empire

Work has started on a new on-site bistro, alongside renovation and refurbishment to the Dress Circle Bar areas at Sunderland Empire as part of a £500,000 investment at the North East theatre.

The luxurious new Garden Place Bistro will open in the former Dress Circle back bar and will offer pre-theatre dining on performance nights (from 5.30pm). The 45 seater bistro will treat customers to a selection of light bites as well as a delicious two course menu for only £12.95, or three course menu for £16.95.  The stylish bistro will be the perfect place to enjoy relaxed pre-theatre dining, safe in the knowledge you won’t miss a moment of the show.

Garden Place Bistro will be open for a soft launch in time for Wonderland (30 January – 4 February 2017) with plans for a full launch to be in place for The Wedding Singer (21-25 February 2017).

The Dress Circle bar area is also undergoing extensive refurbishment as part of the investment which includes refreshing décor, new seating and new flooring, which is again due for completion at the end of January 2017.

The Grade 2 listed Edwardian theatre is managed by the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), the largest owner/operator of theatres in the UK, internationally recognised theatre producer and leader in theatre ticketing services, on behalf of the Sunderland Empire Trust and is supported by Sunderland City Council.

The front of house renovations compliment a range of work and initiatives already completed at the theatre which have included the Ambassador Lounge and box refurbishment and the rolling out of the successful Ordertorium facility, which allows free in-seat beverage and snack ordering and delivery via either an app or at the seat.

Externally, the reinstallation of the iconic Terpsichore statue (the Greek Muse of dancing and choral song) took place last month and saw the statue return to her rightful place on top of the 90ft tower. Further general façade repairs are on schedule for completion, with the plan for all scaffolding to be removed by the end of January 2017 to showcase the refreshed tower in addition to a new advanced lighting system.

Ben Phillips, General Manager, Sunderland Empire said: “2017 signals an exciting time for Sunderland Empire as we embrace the substantial capital improvement plan for the venue. We continue to attract audiences from across the region especially with North East debuts gracing our stage such as The Lion King, Wicked and the homecoming of Billy Elliot the Musical.  We don’t just see ourselves as a Sunderland venue, but as a North East venue.  

“The renovation work ties in with the developments of our new neighbours at the Old Fire Station. It’s important to continually attract people into the city via the cultural offer, especially as we work towards the City of Culture 2021 title. Sunderland Empire is just one cultural element of the offer available across the City, but we believe these new developments at the theatre will help drive footfall and people into our city, which is instrumental.”

Details of the official opening of the new bistro, booking information and opening times will be available in late January 2017.

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