Plans have been unveiled for a major development at one of the North East’s flagship leisure sites, thanks to a new partnership between two hospitality leaders.
PAGH Ventures has been set up by Gary Hutchinson, founder of Chrysalis Leisure Group and Piers Adam, chairman of the internationally renowned Mahiki Group, which has sites across the globe.
And now the new company has revealed its plans to invest more than £750,000 to transform the Fat Buddha site at Newcastle’s 55 Degrees North, with a concept which will eventually be rolled out nationwide.
Newcastle City Council this week gave the green light to the licensing application, which will allow the operation to serve until 3am on Thursdays to Saturdays.
And that means the plans for the city centre site – which will create around 60 jobs – will begin immediately, with the opening scheduled for May.
The Asian-style restaurant will remain but will undergo a rebrand and move to the upper floor of the site, although it will be business as usual while the transformation takes place.
And that will leave room for the ground floor to be transformed into Antler – an alpine ski lodge inspired bar and restaurant.
Among the plans are the provision of an exclusive brand of Tank Beer and Alpine-themed home cooked food, along with the creation of an in-house bakery.
At the same time Antler will feature a regular programme of live entertainment in a rustic and authentic setting, which will also feature a heated, outdoor alpine garden which will be open year round.
The plan to form the new company came after a chance meeting between Mr Hutchinson – who set up Chrysalis Leisure Group six months ago – and Mr Adams.
The Mahiki Group has been a huge success story over the past decade, opening its first site in Mayfair in 2007.
Its Polynesian theme caught the imagination of London bar goers and it has regularly been voted the Best Bar in London.
This led to further locations in Kensington and Manchester, followed by openings in Dubai, Marbella and Sardinia.
“Mahiki is without a doubt one of the most exciting hospitality brands in the world and it is their style and ethos which people will see at Antler,” said Mr Hutchinson.
The first-floor Asian restaurant will see some of the current favourite dishes remain, but at the same time incorporate a number of new concepts and along with Antler will offer the full Mahiki cocktail range.
“Antler will be something entirely new for the North East and is the first of many plans for PAGH Ventures,” added Mr Hutchinson. “And we are hopeful of opening our next site before the end of 2018.”
Mr Adams, meanwhile, said that while he has always wanted a presence in Newcastle, he hesitated until he met Hutchinson.
“He personifies everything that is great about the North East and most importantly he passionately cares about improving standards in the food and beverage sector. We will start this partnership in Newcastle and have big plans together for the months and years ahead.”