What to expect from Flower Cafe as it heads to Sunderland

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The latest addition to the city centre is helping to sow the seeds of change in Keel Square.

Sunderland’s new public square has really come into its own in recent years thanks, in part, to the arrival of Holiday Inn and the bars beneath.

An artist’s impression of how the Sunderland Flower Cafe will lookAn artist’s impression of how the Sunderland Flower Cafe will look
An artist’s impression of how the Sunderland Flower Cafe will look | Pulp Studios Design House

The Botanist and Keel Tavern have taken over two of the units, and have had much success, with the former becoming one of the best-performing in The Botanist group.

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This year, the remaining two units are set to come to life with The Muddler taking over the corner unit serving pan-Asian dishes and Flower Cafe taking up the fourth unit, which faces onto High Street West.

We went along to the Newcastle site, which opened in the former Starbucks unit in Grainger Street two years ago, to get a flavour of what we can expect.

Flower Cafe in Newcastle has been open for two yearsFlower Cafe in Newcastle has been open for two years
Flower Cafe in Newcastle has been open for two years | Pulp Studios Design House

Its blend of coffees and cocktails proved so successful that owners, Sayturk Group Ltd, opened a second branch in Alnwick at the end of last year.

The new Sunderland site is set to open this year as part of a wave of new openings and will have 113 covers inside, with a further 46 seats on pavement seating outside, which will look down towards the new Culture House once it’s completed in 2025.

Vegetarian mezze at Flower CafeVegetarian mezze at Flower Cafe
Vegetarian mezze at Flower Cafe | Sunderland Echo

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While the new Wearside branch will have its own design, it takes style cues from the original site with neon lighting, faux flower detailing, marble tabletops and a pink and blue theme throughout.

It’s been designed by Gerard McElvenny from Pulp Studios Design House, who also helped design Keel Tavern, the recently revamped Gatsby, Port of Call and many Newcastle bars.

Ajmal Nazlie, general manager at the Newcastle Flower Cafe, said: “People love the decor, it’s amazing, and you always see lots of customers taking photos.

“We’ve built up a really loyal following here and most staff know the customers’ first names. We’re the only cafe that opens at night in the city and that’s become a really unique part of the brand.

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“People really like that they come here when most coffee shops are closed and have coffees or cocktails. It’s become a real gathering place.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing that brand to Sunderland, as well as looking at other locations in the North East.”

Gourmet sandwiches will be on the Sunderland menuGourmet sandwiches will be on the Sunderland menu
Gourmet sandwiches will be on the Sunderland menu | Sunderland Echo

The Sunderland menu will be confirmed closer to the time but it will be similar to the Newcastle version, which offers gourmet sandwiches, mezze platters, breakfasts, cakes and more.

Drinks-wise, it specialises in a range of coffees, as well as colourful cocktails, low and no alcohol cocktails, beers, wines and spirits.

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The unit facing onto High Street West which will be occupied by Flower CafeThe unit facing onto High Street West which will be occupied by Flower Cafe
The unit facing onto High Street West which will be occupied by Flower Cafe | Sunderland Echo

The new Sunderland site will create 20 new jobs for the city, with recruitment taking place closer to the time.

Ahead of the two new Keel Square additions, the city’s hospitality offering will be given a major boost by the opening of Sheepfolds Stables on August 2, housing multiple food and drink operators.

Sheepfolds and the south side of the Riverside developments will be better connected once the new footbridge opens between the two sites in summer 2025.

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