Inside the new Turtle Bay restaurant at Durham's £30million Riverwalk development

With its 40 different rums, reggae beats and jerk chicken, Turtle Bay is set to bring the heat of the Caribbean to Durham when it opens its doors this weekend.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 2:52 pm

The latest addition to the £30million Riverwalk development has been years in the planning, but the pandemic caused delays in the national chain’s transformation of the former Central Thai unit on the banks of the Wear.

But from this Friday, October 15, it will finally be able to bring its island party vibes to Durham.

Visitors can look forward to menu options such as Jerk pit BBQ, brown chicken stew made with Jamaican pale ale, fiery curries, chicken wings, breakfasts, burgers, beach-themed salads and bottomless brunches, including a good range of vegan and vegetarian dishes.

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Turtle Bay at The Riverwalk

Drinks-wise, there’s 40 rum varieties from which to choose, as well as 23 cocktail options such as Pineapple Daiquiri, Coconut and Grapefruit Mojito and Spiced Julep. There’s also a range of beers, including Jamaican classic, Red Stripe, on draught.

The 4850 sq ft two-storey venue joins the new leisure development which is helping transform the heart of the historic city, bringing big name chains to Durham, such as Cosy Club and Odeon Luxe, as well as providing a home for independent traders such as Curious Mr Fox.

Turtle Bay Durham general manager Ryan Sullivan said it’s great to be a part of all the investment taking place along the river banks.

Ryan, who began his career as a waiter at the Turtle Bay in Middlesbrough before rising through the ranks, said: “This location is incredible, it’s everything we thought it would be, and more. We always planned for this unit to be Turtle Bay and the location, overlooking Durham Cathedral and Castle, couldn’t be more perfect.

Turtle Bay is the latest addition to the leisure complex

"Turtle Bay is already well established in Newcastle and Middlesbrough, but this restaurant is the next level of Turtle Bay.”

He added: “We’ve had some soft opening nights this week for invited guests and to give the staff some experience, and the feedback has been great so far. We’re also looking forward to feedback when we open to customers, we’re a new venue we want to know what people think.

"For anyone who hasn’t been to a Turtle Bay before: we’re a casual restaurant, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But we do pride ourselves on our good service and our good vibes. For some of our staff this is their first job, but we hired people for their bubbly, enthusiastic personalities, not just experience.”

The new opening has created 50 jobs in the city. More than 500 people applied for the roles, with 200 interviewed and 50 selected.

general manager Ryan Sullivan and head chef Kieran Fear

Ryan said: “The Riverwalk just keeps getting better, there’s so much variety and different types of experiences and food for people to enjoy.”

The restaurant interior features themed areas, including a Reggae and a D’Rum room with a veranda overlooking the river, which can be hired for private parties.

:: Turtle Bay will be open daily from 10am until 11.30pm, with a later closing time at weekends.

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Inside the new Turtle Bay
Chicken wings and slaw
The veranda overlooks the cathedral
Bar staff Izzy Stockdale making the cocktails.
Inside the new Turtle Bay
There's 40 varieties of rum available
Inside the new Turtle Bay
Inside the new Turtle Bay