The Botanist heading to Sunderland as chain famed for quirky cocktails and hanging kebabs announces venue in Keel Square

The first of the four leisure businesses who will move into new units in Keel Square has been announced.

Popular chain The Botanist, which has sites in Newcastle, York, Manchester and more, has announced it’s branching into Wearside and will take up one of the four large units on the ground floor of the new £18million Holiday Inn which is taking shape in the city centre.

The award-winning brand is operated by national firm New World Trading Company and is well known for its botanical interiors, quirky cocktails, signature hanging kebabs, live music offering and venues adorned with tropical plants and foliage.

The opening is set to create 60 new jobs in the area and is part of a wave of huge investment around the city’s cultural quarter and £500million Riverside development which is transforming both sides of the Wear and has been hailed as the UK’s most-ambitious regeneration project.

The Botanist is well-known for its botanical them

Natasha Waterfield, Chief Operating Officer at New World Trading Company, which has 34 venues across the UK, said: “Our Botanist brand is so well-loved by our guests, so it’s always exciting for us to bring our concept-venue to new cities and towns.

Sunderland is a transforming place, thanks to unparalleled investment in the city centre and the vision of the local authority, and we’re excited by the opportunity to bring our immersive offer to the area. We can’t wait to open later this year.”

The move to Sunderland has been supported by Sunderland City Council, forming a key new addition to the leisure offer.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Investment is pouring into Sunderland at an unprecedented rate, and that’s drawing the interest of leisure operators who understand that – as the city becomes more vibrant and dynamic – they can be part of a reimagined and reinvented place.

The Botanist will take up one of four new units in Keel Square

“We are thrilled to welcome The Botanist to Sunderland. It’s a brilliant brand that we know will enliven this part of the city centre by day as it will by evening.

"Add new venues like The Auditorium, and those on the way like the Arena and Sheepfolds, and it’s easy to see just how different Sunderland will be in the next few years as we reap the benefits of a huge investment drive to breathe new life into the heart of our city.”

The bar is part of the new £18million 120-bed Holiday Inn Hotel at Keel Square which is close to completion.

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A Botanist cocktail

North East based property firm Bradley Hall assisted in bringing The Botanist to Sunderland.

Neil Hart, group MD at the firm, said: “Sunderland’s transformation in recent years has been staggering, so it’s little surprise that it is attracting interest from award-winning brands like The Botanist, who can see the vast potential in the city. We’re proud to have played a part in attracting them to Sunderland.”

The Holiday Inn development is being brought forward by Cairn Group, and plans were first approved in 2019, with works commencing in 2020. The plans have been part-funded by Canada Life, a commitment secured by Avison Young, and will create additional accommodation that will support an increasing number of visitors to the city.

The keenly-awaited addition to the city centre will create 130 jobs when it opens its doors.

A previous menu dish at The Botanist

The hotel is one of a number of significant developments complete or underway in Sunderland city centre. Between them, the projects will transform Riverside Sunderland, which will become home to 1,000 ultra-sustainable residential properties, business premises comprising 1m sq ft of space that will welcome up to 10,000 workers and leisure spaces and public realm for people to enjoy.