A successful North East burger chain have plans to beef up Sunderland’s restaurant scene.
Fat Hippo, who’ve built up a cult following with their inventive burger toppings which include peanut butter and candied bacon options, have plans to open The Bonded Warehouse in Low Street, near Panns Bank.
Plans are in place to transform the Grade II-listed former Students’ Union building into a street food cafe and bar, which could seat up to 175 people.
Although Fat Hippo is behind the venture, the venue will be run as The Bonded Warehouse.
In a statement prepared for Sunderland City councillors, planning officers said: “Fat Hippo have put forward a proposal to use the ground floor function room as a primary bar for smaller functions and weekday activity, while maintaining the first floor function room for larger functions and private bookings.”
The eatery would be created on the ground floor while the second floor is being kept as a function room and wedding venue, and as a room to host live music.
Making the most of the rising popularity of gourmet burgers, Fat Hippo opened its first branch in Jesmond, Newcastle, in 2010, followed by Fat Hippo Underground in Newcastle city centre.
Last year the chain branched into Durham City, sympathetically transforming one of the historic buildings in Saddler Street. Though the brand has visited Sunderland many times with its street food van, Bonded Warehouse would be its first official site in the city.
Most of the building work at the Victorian warehouse would be centred around the ground floor and would involve knocking through a partition wall between the ground floor function room and former shop to create an open plan space.
The statement by council planning officers added: “By introducing such changes Fat Hippo have set out that smarter use of the building will increase the building’s potential with the aim to have the property in use seven days a week, whereas currently it is a vacant property offering nothing to the city.”
It will be the latest new restaurant to open in the city after the recent opening of The Engine Room in High Street West and Miller & Carter in Newcastle Road, Fulwell. Work is also ongoing to create a Mexican restaurant opposite the Fire Station in the former Chapmans jewellers.
Plans have also been approved to transform the derelict Thai Manor site in Sunniside into a restaurant.