Staff save Sunderland's Spent Grain by taking over restaurant themselves

One of the best-quality restaurants in Sunderland city centre is looking to the future under new management.

Monday, 16th May 2022, 3:13 pm

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This week marks a year since Spent Grain brought new life to an empty unit in John Street, bringing a new dining concept of small plates and casual dining to Sunderland city centre.

It’s proved popular, building up a loyal following, particularly for its Sunday lunches, and is one in a wave of new businesses which have opened at that end of town which also includes the rebirth of Mackie’s Corner.

So when the original owners decided to step back, staff members Nathan Outhwaite, front of house, and Carley Wood, a chef, decided to keep the momentum going and take over the business.

Spent Grain us under new management

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The pair are already well-known to former patrons at the old D’Acqua restaurant where the pair worked for a number of years before it closed.

Now, they’re relishing the challenge of taking over the reins at their own venture.

They’ve made some changes in the branding and have added some menu changes, such as brunch options and more cocktails, but they’re sticking with the ethos of Spent Grain which has made it a popular addition to the city.

Nathan said: “Me and Carley both joined Spent Grain last year and really liked how it’s brought something relaxed and chilled to the city centre. There’s no pressure here, it’s all about relaxed dining.

Nathan Outhwaite and Carley Wood have taken over Spent Grain on John Street.

"The first year in any business is tough, so if you can get through that first year you’ve done well and Spent Grain has done that. I think part of its success is the fact we don’t price ourselves out of the market. We do a really good three course lunch for £20.”

He added: “I’ve always wanted my own restaurant so when this opportunity came about I asked Carley if she wanted to go 50/50 as it’s easier with the two of us.

"We certainly didn’t want it to close, and for another new business in Sunderland to fail, so we decided to give it a go.”

The move has also retained the roles of the eight staff members working at Spent Grain.

Some of the most popular dishes on the menu

Nathan said: “Carley was at D’Acqua for 13 years and was really well known for her desserts. That restaurant had a really good customer base and a lot of those people have been coming in to see us since we took over Spent Grain and it’s great to see those familiar faces.

"There’s such a good choice of restaurants in Sunderland for people now, compared to what there used to be.”

As part of its first birthday celebrations, Spent Grain is running a deal for 10% off all bills from May 16-22.

:: Spent Grain is open Monday and Tuesdays from 9am to 1pm for brunch only; Wednesday to Friday from 9am to 3pm for brunch, 11.30am-3pm for lunch and 5pm-9pm for dinner; Saturdays from 11.30am to 4pm for brunch and lunch and dinner from 5pm to 9pm and on Sundays from noon until 4pm for Sunday lunch only. Booking is recommended.

Nathan Outhwaite and Carley Wood have taken over Spent Grain on John Street.

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