Roker's Tin of Sardines welcomes more than 17,000 customers in first two months of business opening at Sunderland seafront
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The gin bar and brunch spot opened on June 17 after completely transforming an old toilet block in Pier View, which had stood empty for around five years, and the owners estimate they’ve had around 17,500 new and returning customers since then.
Run by the Davis family – Ben Davis, dad Trevor Davis and business partner Bethany Jane Hardy – the new addition is a sister site to the Tin of Sardines in Durham City and Tin of Sardines in Poole, Dorset, where Trevor hails from.
The Roker site, which has created 24 new jobs, has become a flagship bar for the family hospitality brand, who also run Old Tom’s in Durham, and it’s a particularly special venue for Ben who was raised in the city.
The former Farringdon School pupil said: “I remember when I was younger we didn’t come to the seafront much, but there’s such a great offering for people down here now. We’re really proud to be a part of the development of the area.
"I always knew this would work, because Roker is such a great spot, and we’ve had a brilliant response from people.”
Such is the success of the concept, that Ben is hoping to open other Tins of Sardines at other coastal and riverside spots in the North East.
Trevor added: “There’s so many different cultures here: a cycling scene, dog walkers, paddleboarders and more. People seem genuinely happy when they’re here, it’s such a great spot for a drink.”
The dog-friendly venue is open seven days a week from 8.30am until late and has seen a constant stream of people through the doors for its brunches, coffees, gins, wines and pints in the sunshine.
Major works at the site included removing the lowered ceiling to reveal original Victorian beams and the construction of a new terrace at the rear of the site.
The terrace, which offers panoramic views of Roker, has proved particularly popular and there are plans to add awnings and external bi-folds so that it can used in the winter, too.
Another popular feature is its bottomless brunches, which run at weekends. Although the bar operates on a walk-in basis, brunches need to be pre-booked and places have been filling up fast.
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 the next stage in the development set to open.