Mexico 70 bosses reveal their plans for Sunderland's historic Ship Isis pub

The team behind Mexico 70 have announced their plans for the historic Ship Isis pub after worries for its future.

By Katy Wheeler
Monday, 12 August, 2019, 16:30

Earlier in the month, the Echo reported that Hartlepool-based brewery Camerons hadn’t renewed their lease at the Grade II-listed pub in Silksworth Row, which dates back to 1885.

With an established taco bar and restaurant in High Street West and a spin off Mexico 73 match day kiosk at Sheepfolds, the team behind Mexico 70 took over the reins at the landmark pub on August 1 and will now be running both city centre venues.

While mezcal and tacos remain the business model at Mexico 70, Ship Isis, which is owned by Sunderland University, will remain as a traditional pub, specialising in real ales and ciders.

Ship Isis manager Chris Taylor with Mexico 70's Neil Bassett (R)

Neil Bassett, from Mexico 70, said: “It’s a pub we all used to come to for a drink. It’s an amazing old building, with an amazing feel to it. We’d heard that the lease was ending and heard various rumours about who might take it over and we were worried that it would destroy the soul of the place. You’ve got to know Sunderland to take over a place like Ship Isis.”

One of the first things the new tenants insisted on was keeping the existing Ship Isis staff, including general manager of nine years Chris Taylor. Plans also include a food offering which will be served in the snug, as well as live music in the upstairs function room.

Neil said: “A few people have asked if we’ll be doing tacos here, but that’s not the case. While Mexico 70 will still be doing tacos, the food here, which we’ll be developing in the next few months, will be casual dining that suits the venue. We’ll be using the same kitchen team as Mexico 70 where we have a great head chef.

“We want to do it properly. We spent months researching the menu for Mexico 70 and we’ll be doing the same here.

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The upstairs room at Ship Isis

“This is a good, honest Sunderland pub with a great beer range. It’s won CAMRA’s Sunderland and South Tyneside Pub of the Year for 2019, which isn’t an easy title to win, but we’re hoping to retain that title. There’ll be little change, apart from tidying it up and looking at the food offering.”

In the first few days of trading, the new owners say it’s going well.

“We got the keys on the Thursday afternoon and were open on the Friday afternoon and the place was absolutely packed, “ explained Neil. “The response so far from people has been really positive and they seem pleased that we’ve taken it over.”

Chris Taylor said: “It’s great to have local business owners take over the pub. Camerons did a great job with the beer range and we’ll be continuing in that direction.”

The pub has won awards for its ales and ciders

*The Ship Isis is open Monday to Thursday from 4pm and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon.

Ship Isis in Silksworth Row