Sunderland's Pop Recs unveils new outdoor terrace for al fresco food and pints

Pop Recs has unveiled the latest stage of its development as it breathes new life into some of the city centre’s oldest buildings.

The community interest company opened its cafe and venue in November last year, which has already earned a loyal following for its breakfasts, lunches, gigs and events as part of the renaissance of once derelict buildings at the bottom end of High Street West.

Along with the neighbouring Sunshine Co-operative, it’s completely transformed the stretch of buildings in the city’s Heritage Action Zone, which once housed the very first Binns store in the 1840s.

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Now, the Pop Recs team have turned what was once an old car parking area into a terrace for cafe customers and gig-goers wanting to enjoy their food and drink outdoors. The terrace will also host its own events, with plans in place for a licence for a newly-constructed outdoor bar so drinks can also be served at the back of the site.

The new terrace at Pop Recs

Dan Shannon, one of the three directors at Pop Recs, said: “We’ve always had this space at the back of Pop Recs that was essentially a car park and there was always an idea that we’d develop it into a bit of a terrace.

"So we worked with the council to put this new bar in and have seating outside and the idea is that we can use it as an extension of the cafe.

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"We’re also going to do events out here. So this Saturday (August 20) we have Frankie Francis coming to DJ. Weather permitting, we’ll have music outside and people can bring their drinks outside.

"We’ve also got Ding from Hartlepool, who are burger specialists, doing a pop up in the back yard (September 3 from 2pm), and we’re also hoping to do something for the Tour of Britain cycling series on September 6.

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Pop Recs barista Luke Ramsey in the new terrace

The new Pop Recs, which had previously operated at premises in Fawcett Street and Stockton Road, has proved a popular addition to the far end of town.

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However, it’s not been without its difficulties.

At the weekend, it was targeted by thieves for the fifth time in two years, with thousands of pounds worth of damage done to the front doors.

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A crowdfunding page was set up to help pay for an extra level of security at the site and it’s garnered a huge response, with more than £3,000 donated so far.

People can take their food and drink onto the terrace
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Dan said: “It’s been incredible, the generosity of people is quite astounding. It’s really heartening for us to see that we have that support. It’s a shame that we had to ask as it’s not a cost that we expected to have to cover. But it’s really shown to us what this place means to people and how much people want it to survive. So if you support it in any way, thanks so much.”

It took three years of painstaking restoration, a million pounds of investment and a whole lot of heart and soul to be able to finally open the new home of Pop Recs last year, in memory of one of its founders Dave Harper.

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The vision of Pop Recs has come to life thanks to the drive of Pop Recs directors, building owners Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust and funding from National Lottery. The buildings are also a gateway cornerstone of Sunderland’s Historic High Streets Heritage Action Zone, a revival scheme comprising grant funding from Sunderland City Council and Historic England.

Across the road, work has also started on the corner building on Villiers Street to restore it and bring it back into use by the community.

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The new terrace utilises car parking space

:: You can donate to the Pop Recs Crowd Funder here.

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Dan Shannon inside the Pop Recs cafe, which opened last year
Pop Recs has transformed old buildings at the bottom of High Street West