Popular Sunderland restaurant Luciano's Ristorante set to be demolished and relocated after 30 years as a city favourite

Luciano's Ristorante in Sunderland is set to be demolished and relocated after 30 years as part of the city centre regeneration plans.

Monday, 13th December 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Monday, 13th December 2021, 3:08 pm

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The ‘much-loved’ restaurant Luciano's on High Street West in Sunderland is to be demolished early next year as part of Sunderland City Council’s regeneration of the City Centre.

Luciano’s, which has operated from the same building for 30 years and won Leisure Business of the Year 2021 at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards, is set to move elsewhere, but application proposals to relocate to units under the new hotel at Keel Square are yet to be approved by the Council.

Owners Habib Farahi and Masoud Farahi say they are ‘disappointed to be leaving years of memories behind’ but hope to relocate to Keel Square after ruling out alternative premises in Sunderland that were ‘unsuitable for the business.’

Luciano Ristorante brothers from left Habib and Masud Farahi have run the business for 30 years.

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Habib said: “We have very loyal customers and we have built up a team of dedicated members of staff over the last 30 years so this news is a shame because we love this building and so many memories have been made here.

"There have been ups and downs over the years and we have been through difficult times in Sunderland’s city centre, particularly throughout the pandemic but I’ve loved seeing the joy on customers faces as they enjoy themselves here, so it’s quite overwhelming that we have to leave.”

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The brothers say the last 30 years have been full of ‘crazy times’ but they have ‘enjoyed’ building their Italian business.

Owner Habib says the business are 'disappointed' about relocating.

“This year will be our last Christmas and New Year so it’s all quite sad because people love it here, they love the history and the memories and customers have grown up here so people are upset about this,” said Habib.

"We don’t yet have a building to relocate to so it’s a worrying time but we are feeling positive and I have the energy to continue and carry on running this business in the city centre – we are completely overwhelmed by the support from customers so we thank everyone for that.”

The demolition of the building, which council chiefs say has been in the pipeline for several years, will take place next year in preparation for the city’s new Culture House.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Ambitious cities develop and change, and transformation programmes like the one we are delivering in our city centre will – inevitably – mean that some businesses may be required to relocate to facilitate new development.

Luciano's are hoping to move to units underneath the new hotel in Keel Sqaure.

Cllr Miller said Sunderland needs ‘impressive new visitor attractions’ in the city centre to draw people in and the Culture House would be ‘a world-class venue that will inspire and excite people of all ages’.

He added: “We recognise that Luciano’s is a much-loved restaurant and a place we know holds strong memories for lots of people in the city and we’d like to support the business to start a new chapter in the city centre.

"We have tirelessly supported the team over the years, particularly at the point that Luciano’s’ lease on this building became unsecured, seven years ago, with a significant reduction in rent in recognition of the fact we could not guarantee they could remain there in the long term.”

Luciano's will be celebrating their last Christmas and New Year in the building on High Street West.

Cllr Miller said the council had supported Luciano’s and other leisure and hospitality businesses through the pandemic.

He added: “The council team has explored a number of alternative premises with Luciano’s’ management team but to date we understand they have not yet finalised their plans for new premises.”

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