Empty Bud Bigalows building reopens in Sunderland as new venue Halo in time for Bank Holiday weekend
A once popular pub that’s stood empty for years will reopen this weekend as a brand new bar and kitchen for the city.
After extensive renovation work, Halo Bar & Kitchen will open in the former Bud Bigalows site in Low Row on the evening of Friday, May 28, in what’s hoped to be a bumper Bank Holiday weekend for city businesses.
In its time as Bud Bigalows, the pub, famed for its mechanical bull, was a popular stop off point in a route of bars at that end of the town and the new owners are hoping to put it on the map once more.
The site was very briefly Cargo after Bud Bigalows, but has since stood empty for around five years.
Max Craigs, one of the new owners, said: “Our ethos is all about being part of the community and we really want to work with the other businesses to create a route at this end of the town. We won’t be undercutting other bars, we want to work with them.
"We’ve had to start from scratch with the refurbishment, right down to relaying the concrete floor, but we’re really pleased with the new look. The colour scheme is a neutral palette of greys with cherry blossom trees, neon signs and a selfie wall.”
The new bar will be open seven days a week serving regular draughts, cocktails and a broad range of spirits, with tables already fully booked for opening night.
Food available will include stonebaked pizzas, burgers, wings, tacos, platters and more – most of which will have a vegan or vegetarian version.
Max said: “With the food we really want to create a premium experience for people, without the premium price tag.”
Halo is the first phase of the reopening, which will see the upstairs bar at the site open as Craigs’ Sports Bar and Grill in mid-June. Both bars, which without social distancing can hold up to 1,000 people, will work in partnership with the university to attract students, while talks are also ongoing for Halo to provide the breakfasts for the Travelodge upstairs.
Once both bars are open, they will create up to 50 jobs.
General manager of both bars James Sills, who formerly managed The Funky Indian, said: “Sunderland has a brilliant crowd, but often people go somewhere else for a night out – and we don’t want that to happen.
"There’s a lot of investment and improvement works happening at this end of town and it’s great to be a part of that. Once the Empire reopens, there’s going to be a great choice for people.”
Meanwhile, the upper floors will become an exclusive bar area with a roof terrace named Victoria’s Loft, in recognition of the building’s name.
Other major investment in the area recently includes the creation of Minster Park on the grounds around Sunderland Minster as part of the Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage Scheme.