THE Pullman Lodge is full steam ahead under new management.
The Echo revealed last week that South Tyneside businessman Tony Singh had pulled out of a planned takeover of the Sunderland Council-owned venue, which has been closed since the collapse of Wylam Leisure two years ago.
Now a consortium of three local businessmen has stepped in to take an 18-month lease on the seafront landmark.
Rosalind Leisure is fronted by Séamus Whelan, best known as the former boss of Paddy Whacks Irish Bar, in Green Terrace.
He is backed up by fellow director Simon Burdus, who has worked in events management, marketing and sports and leisure and retail, and a third director with a background in the hospitality and catering industries, including a number of large high profile high turnover venues.
“The Pullman, standing as it does in a fantastic prime location, was once the jewel in the Seaburn seafront,” said Seamus.
“Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and the venue has lost its way.
“While it would be naive and overly optimistic to suggest that it could be returned to the heights of its former glory and success, we do consider it possible to revive it to a credible and profitable business level.
“In doing so, the aesthetic nature of the venue, in particular the Pullman carriages, will be restored to a standard which we hope would attract praise and interest, and not the derision it has attracted in the past year where it was fast becoming an eyesore.
“Our aim will be to establish the Pullman as a quality complex, which will include a hotel, a function room, bar, café/restaurant and a dine-in takeaway.
“There is a shortage of accommodation and lack of choice for visitors to Sunderland and we feel we can help with this.”
The takeover will see Lowry’s Fish and Chip Shop replaced with a new outlet, offering “healthy, exotic and varied” food, but the firm will be concentrating on the venue’s function room.
“It is a stunning room and has little to compete with it locally for size and appearance,” said Seamus.
“Not only will it offer again a fantastic venue for occasions such as weddings, birthdays and christenings, but we want to make The Pullman a proper events venue, in staging regular live music and comedy events, boxing and MMA evenings, themed nights as well as star guest nights where we can bring celebrity acts into an area that is normally neglected.”
“We are genuinely excited by the possibilities this venue poses.”
The company will work closely with the council as plans for the redevelopment of the seafront progress.
Cabinet secretary Councillor Mel Speding said: “The city council bought the Pullman site last year because it is a key land holding which will help the council realise the masterplan for the longer-term development of the area.
“In the shorter-term, we want to see the building being used so I am pleased that this consortium has recognised the opportunities the site can bring.
“On behalf of everyone with an interest in the seafront, I hope everything goes well for them.”