See inside new look Peacock as it hosts pop-up dining nights with huge burgers, parmos and more
One of the city centre’s biggest pubs has a new look as it aims to boost Sunderland’s growing foodie scene.
The Peacock building, which dates back to 1901, has always had one of the city’s grandest listed facades – now it has a new look inside.
Barry Hyde and partner Cindy Godoy, who run the pub, spent Lockdown giving the large bar a new look including Art Deco wallpaper, a new colour scheme and specially-commissioned artworks.
"One of the biggest changes we’ve made is to paint the ceiling a dark colour,” explained Barry, who is well-known in the city as frontman of The Futureheads. “This is a large bar, but having the ceiling darkened helps to make it cosier and at night it disappears and draws your attention to the people you’re with.”
Other new additions include a Sunderland-inspired surrealist mural by local artist Kathryn Robertson, gold leaf typography by Kit Tinkler as well as a piece depicting Frank Zappa by artist Andrew Forcer.
Cindy says the new look has been well received and that it’s great to be pulling pints for customers once more after being closed for eight months due to the ever-changing pandemic restrictions.
"It’s been amazing having people back, hospitality is in my veins and it’s been so exciting to put our stamp on things,” she said. “To see the function room full upstairs and the pub full downstairs makes the whole building come alive and it’s great to see it buzzing.”
Functions and gigs are a big part of the business plan for The Peacock, which Barry took over with business partner Dan Donnelly in late 2019.
Now restrictions have been lifted, the large upstairs function and events space can be used once more.
Food also plays a major role in the future of the business and as well as their own lunchtime menu, serving options such as open sandwiches, soups, salads and burgers, they’ve teamed up with a host of independent traders for Feast at the Peacock events.
The next series will run on consecutive Fridays in August and September, featuring pop ups from Pop Up Parmo on August 13; Cantina on August 20; Brioche Burgs on August 27 and Riff Tacos on September 3.
"We really want to establish ourselves as a place to come and eat. Booking people for the Feast nights is like booking bands and the kitchen is their stage,” explained Barry. “I think all hospitality in the city is on the same page and is trying to increase the vibrancy. There’s a nicely competitive element in the city and it’s driving standards up. Due to Lockdown, the standards people expect from food has also gone up.
"These are no doubt difficult times, but business is growing and this area is very up and coming.”
The Peacock lies at the heart of a number of developments in the city with Riverside Sunderland transforming the former Vaux site on one side and the £14m Auditorium set to open its doors soon on the other side.
The pub too is playing its part in boosting the city’s cultural offering with Barry and Dan running the Northern Academy of Music Education from studios on the top floor of the site.
In partnership with University of Sunderland, the BA (Hons) Modern Music Industries course aims to nurture, develop, and produce the music artists of the future when it starts from September.
Barry said: “Sunderland has an increasingly vibrant culture scene and cultural activity is all the more important in cities and towns because of the pandemic transforming high streets.
"Cultural activity, socialising, going to theatres, going out to eat, will be what towns and cities are all about.”
*The Peacock is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to midnight. Lunch is served 11am to 3pm, with the pop up food available on evenings. Afternoon tea is available via pre-booking.