Sunderland’s latest seafront restaurant is finally set to open.
Partners Bob Senior and Eddie Fung had planned to open The Fat Buddha at Seaburn last year, but say they have been left frustrated by a series of delays outside their control.
Now they have finally been able to start fitting out and plan to have the new venue up and running by the end of March or beginning of April.
Bob said the wait – which has sparked rumours in the local area that work on the project had ground to a halt entirely – had been extremely frustrating.
“We have had to wait for the word go from the builder and owner,” he said.
“We are not the owners of the site, just the tenants. We have been waiting for the green light as long as people have been waiting for us to start work.
We are not the owners of the site, just the tenants. We have been waiting for the green light as long as people have been waiting for us to start work.Bob Senior
“We have been waiting for the builders to finish. We are pleased to say they have and we are now on site to fit it out. As soon as we got the go-ahead, we started work very quickly.”
The partners have now recruited a head chef for the venue and are in the process of hiring the rest of the kitchen staff.
Once they are in place, recruitment for the rest of the staff can begin. Bob expects the number of jobs produced to be in line with the group’s other venues and is planning a recruitment event to meet applicants.
“Last year we were inundated with interest and then it didn’t happen,” he said.
“This year I want to meet people face-to-face and see those who have made the effort to come down and drop a CV off.
“Our Newcastle and Durham restaurants have around 45 staff, in a mix of full and part-time positions.”
The new venue will sit just over 100 people inside, with room for a further 40-plus diners on the terrace.
As well as the restaurant upstairs, the building will include public toilets, a cafe, disabled changing facilities and a new office for the RNLI on the promenade level.
Bob believes the promenade level cafe will be a big hit with beach visitors.
“There will be chairs outside, right in the sun, and you will have all the stuff you might want if you were walking your dog,” he said.