Sunderland's Engine Room bar set to finally reopen after more than a year closed

After more than a year closed, the Engine Room pub is finally set to reopen its doors this weekend.

By Katy Wheeler
Thursday, 21st October 2021, 11:36 am

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The Engine Room at the Fire Station
The Engine Room at the Fire Station

While other pubs and bars across the city reopened as lockdown restrictions were lifted, the bar within the city’s Fire Station arts development has remained closed whilst major construction work on the neighbouring Auditorium continued.

But it will welcome drinkers and diners once more from Friday, October 22, with a new management team in place.

Although the venue is still operated by Pub Culture, which also runs the neighbouring Dun Cow, the firm has recently appointed a new CEO.

The Engine Room

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Rhys McKinnell has previously been director of restaurants for the Fenwick Department Store Group where he was responsible for the development of their flagship Food Hall in Newcastle as well as the company’s 30 bars and restaurants group wide.

He said he’s looking forward to boosting the offering at the Engine Room.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted to join Pub Culture and be part of this exciting time of creativity in Sunderland. As the new Pub Culture leadership team, we’ve been working incredibly hard alongside our colleagues at The Music Arts and Culture Trust to prepare The Engine Room for reopening.

"With an exciting new food and beverage offer and online reservation system, The Engine Room will go from strength to strength as the premium hospitality and events destination for Wearside.”

Sunderland Fire Station Auditorium new sign as works continue.

The Engine Room will soon welcome a new neighbour when the £18m auditorium opens its doors at the Fire Station. The new venue for the city will open its doors from December 10 with a programme of acts including Kathryn Tickell, The Lake Poets, Mica Paris, The Shires and more.

The Engine Room will be run by Stu Burnip, who will also manage The Dun Cow, and The Fire Station’s Auditorium foyer bar. Stu said: “I am hugely excited about the development of Sunderland’s cultural quarter and the fantastic opportunity that exists within the city.

"We have put together a great new product range including a bespoke cocktail and drinks menu to go with the range of draft ale and wine products that The Engine Room is already known for. With our exceptional hospitality team now recruited, trained and ready to go we are really looking forward to welcoming customers back.”

Paul Callaghan chairperson of Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust, which has led the redevelopment of The Fire Station, said: “The MAC Trust is delighted that The Engine Room is back.

The Engine Room, the former Fire Station

"Since it opened in 2017 it has been one of the most vibrant and popular places in Sunderland to eat, drink and socialise. It provides a major income stream for the trust and, as a charity, we’re extremely grateful to The Engine Room’s customers for their support that has helped us build The Fire Station Auditorium and so dramatically change this part of the city.”

Initially, The Engine Room will open on Wednesday to Saturday from 11.30am and from 12noon on a Sunday. There’s an a la carte menu including options such as prawn and smoked salmon cocktail, beer battered fish and chips, salt and pepper calamari with chorizo crumb and Thai vegetable curry as well as a full range of sandwiches and light bites.

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