Sunderland bar Varsity to reopen this week

Varsity, the Sunderland city centre bar, nightclub and restaurant which has been closed for several years, has been taken over by Les Ojugbana, who is pictured (left) with manager Nichola Price and Casa Rio Tapas restaurant boss Mark Hardy.
Varsity, the Sunderland city centre bar, nightclub and restaurant which has been closed for several years, has been taken over by Les Ojugbana, who is pictured (left) with manager Nichola Price and Casa Rio Tapas restaurant boss Mark Hardy.
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A bar owner says he’s been overwhelmed by the response since he announced he was reopening a popular nightspot.

Last week, the Echo revealed that Les Ojugbana had taken over Varsity in Green Terrace, two years after the previous operators went into liquidation.

He’s no stranger to city nightlife - he runs a number of the doors in city centre pubs through his security firm Gbana Security.

After listening to what punters want from a night out, the businessman believes he can make the venue a success once more after investing £150,000 in giving it a makeover.

After a VIP opening tomorrow night, it will open to the public on Friday in time for the Bank Holiday weekend.

Downstairs will be a bar and bistro, while upstairs will be Casa Rio tapas restaurant, formerly based in West Sunniside.

“After the story in the Echo, my Facebook went into meltdown, I couldn’t even load it as there were so many messages and comments,” he said.

Les, who also runs the adjacent Basement nightclub and bar, added: “Face-to-face the feedback has been positive too. I’ve been chatting to people on the doors and people have said they are really looking forward to it coming back. I’d forgotten just how popular it is. The restaurant is almost fully booked already for the Saturday night.”

The story was one of the most well-read on the Echo website last week, with many readers having their say on the comeback.

Davey Boy 78 posted online: “Good news, all we need is something to happen to the old Bud Bigalows then all the pubs will be in use again.”

Gary 1965 said: “Plenty investment goes into these venues. Now we need the people of Sunderland to support them.”

Julie Dyson said: “Brilliant, this was one of my favourite bars, loved my lunch dates with the girls here! Even though it’s a rarity I drink I may actually start going out in Sunderland on a weekend now and again.”