New bistro and refurbished bar opened at Sunderland Empire

New bistro and refurbished bar opened at Sunderland Empire

Work has been completed on the 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 open for walk up bookings for One Night of Elvis on Wednesday 1 March. Walk up bookings will continue until The Full Monty on Monday 20 March, when advance bookings can be made in person at the box office or via

Garden Place Bistro will offer pre-theatre dining on performance nights from 5.30pm and on matinee days from 12.30pm, with early arrival is recommended to experience the full 3-course menu. 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, alongside a special children’s menu. 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.

The Dress Circle front bar area has also undergone extensive refurbishment which has included refreshed décor, new seating and restoration and exposure of the original parquet flooring.

The front of house renovations compliment a range of work and initiatives already completed at the Grade 2 listed Edwardian theatre which have included the Ambassador Lounge and box refurbishment and the rolling out of the successful Ordertorium facility.

Externally, the reinstallation of the iconic Terpsichore statue took place last month, following dislodgement during high winds. All were delighted to see the statue return to her rightful place on top of the 90ft tower. General Façade repairs have also been completed to showcase a refreshed tower in addition to a new advanced lighting system, which allows lighting changes linked to a productions arrival.

Ben Phillips, General Manager, Sunderland Empire said: “This year 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 in the creation of a cultural hub around the theatre. 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.”

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Blockbuster West End shows are staged at the Sunderland Empire, the biggest theatre between Edinbugh and Manchester.


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