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First look at Roker's Tin of Sardines bar ahead of big opening day at Sunderland seafront

After months of renovation works and much anticipation from Roker residents and visitors, the new Tin of Sardines bar opens its doors this weekend – and we’ve been for a first look around.

Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 2:09 pm

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Named after its sister bar in Durham, one of the world’s smallest gin bars holding just 16 people – hence the Tin of Sardines moniker – the seafront’s newest addition is set to be a real hotspot this summer.

Opening to the public from 8.30am on Friday, June 17, visitors to the bar can expect 215 varieties of gin, draught beers, spirits and wines. The full menu will be available in the coming weeks but, in the meantime, people can still tuck into breakfasts, small plates and light bites, with one of the best terrace views in the city.

Major renovation works have taken place at the old Victorian building in Pier View which had been empty for some time after previously being used as public toilets and a tram shed.

A first look at Roker's new Tin of Sardines bar

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As well as removing the lowered ceiling to showcase the original beams, works have included creating a terrace at the rear of the site to make the most of uninterrupted views of Roker Pier and along the coast.

The bar has been brought to the city by the Davis family, made up of father and son team Trevor and Ben Davis and business partner Bethany Jane Hardy.

Passersby have been peering through the floor to ceiling windows for weeks and manager Chris Paterson said they can’t wait to welcome people through the doors.

He said: “When people ask us what the bar is going to be, we say it’s a bar for the people – and we can’t wait for them to finally be able to sit on the terrace with a gin, beer or glass of wine and a plate of seafood enjoying views in the city that are second to none.

Roker’s new gin bar Tin of Sardines on Pier View with manager Chris Paterson.

"People have been popping their heads in for weeks, asking when we’re open, and it’s so important to get it right for them.”

He added: "I’m a local lad who grew up nearby in Horatio Street so I know how much the development of Roker means to people and we’re proud to be a part of that. When I was growing up there wasn’t much down the seafront, but that has really changed over the years, with more openings to come. You have coastal areas like Whitley Bay and Tynemouth and now it’s Sunderland’s time.”

Twenty jobs have been created by the bar, which seats around 30 inside and 50 outside, with tables for groups as well as couples. Chris has overseen a number of bar and restaurant openings and he says the job applications for Tin of Sardines far exceeded previous numbers, with hospitality staff keen to get behind the bar at the city’s newest venue.

As well as gins, there’s an extensive choice of wines, including organic options, and spirits. Draught options include Moretti, Heineken Silver, Neck Oil, Guinness and Inch’s Cider, with a starting price of £4.90 for a pint of Heineken Silver.

The building was an old toilet block and tram shed, but had been empty for a number of years.

As well as investment from the lease holders, the transformation of the site has included a £250,000 investment from Sunderland City Council, assisted by grant funding courtesy of The Coastal Communities Fund, to ensure the premises was ready for a tenant to move into.

The income from the lease will also support the Sunderland Seafront Trust, which operates the Roker Pier and Lighthouse tours, and the new income will help it to organise a range of seafront events and activities.

Further down the coast, work is also forging ahead on the transformation of the old storage shelter on Seaburn promenade which is being turned into a seafood restaurant by the team behind Mexico 70 and Ship Isis, which is expected to be open around summer time.

Other developments as part of the wider Seafront Regeneration Scheme include new life being given to the Victorian tram shelter on the Coast Road, which will be transformed by Blacks Corner deli in East Boldon.

There's a broad range of drinks behind the bar

The Echo recently revealed that the team behind the successful Vaux Brewery in Roker Retail Park have won planning permission to turn the old shelter on the corner of Marine Walk into a beachfront bar.

*Tin of Sardines Roker will be open 8.30am to 11.30pm Sunday to Thursday and 8.30am to 12.30am Friday and Saturday. No bookings are being taken, it’s walk ups only at the minute. The venue is child and dog-friendly.

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Roker’s new gin bar Tin of Sardines on Pier View.
The terrace has picture perfect views
A new terrace has been built at the rear of the bar
A lowered ceiling was removed to expose the original beams
A nautical theme flows through the bar
Roker’s new gin bar Tin of Sardines on Pier View.