Sunderland’s seafront Fat Buddha restaurant will be open by the end of the month, says the man in charge.
Partners Bob Senior and Eddie Fung had planned to open the new venue at Seaburn last year, but were left frustrated by a series of delays.
But now fitting out is almost complete and Bob is looking forward to finally welcoming customers.
"I am confident that by the end of April we will be open," he said.
"I am dying to get it open because it has been a year-and-a-half of money going out. I would like to get some money in.
"The health and safety boys have to sign off their bit but other than that we have it almost all in place.
"The fact is we are 95 per cent of the way there now, which is great."
Manager Mel Lawson is confident the new restaurant will be a major success.
"I am very excited – I can’t wait for it all to be finished, to be honest," she said.
“It is in a beautiful location and it is going to attract a lot of people."
Bob’s faith in the project had never wavered, despite the disappointing hold-ups, said Mel.
"Bob has just been so enthusiastic about opening here throughout the process," she said, "and he is still properly excited.
"It is going to be great."
Designer Mark Earnshaw is the man responsible for the restaurant’s distinctive look.
The challenge had been to produce a venue that would be equally appealing to the daytime visitor popping in for a cuppa and those coming for an evening meal, he said.
"If you go into the Newcastle or Durham Buddhas, they are quite dark – it can’t be like that here," he said.
Mark believes the restaurant’s location, right on the seafront, will be a major selling point and the design makes the most of the vista.
"When you show people a picture of the view, they just immediately get it," he said. "You can’t go over the top with the design - the view of the sea is everything."
Mark believes the opening will be good news for the area: "This is the thing that will create interest and trigger investment to get this whole development going," he said,
"When something like this opens, it benefits the area because everybody ups their game. It is not competition for the other restaurants nearby - rather it means the area becomes known for food and people come to it."