Tequila Tequila is hoping to make you happy when it opens its doors this weekend.
The Mexican restaurant has breathed new life into the former Varsity site in Green Terrace, which had stood empty for around a year after a number of reincarnations.
At just under 200 covers, it’s set to be one of the largest restaurants in the city centre and is the brainchild of businessman Mike Downey who’s also behind successful ventures Hidden, Fusion, Establishment, Detroit, Illusions and The Crow Tree.
Mike, who runs New Style Leisure with wife Sharon, has invested around £200,000 in renovating the historic Galen Buildings which are Grade I listed.
He said: “The site was very well-known as a bar when it was Varsity, but I think over the years it’s lost its identity. We wanted to do something completely different and it’s very much a restaurant, rather than a bar.
“It’s a fabulous building with fabulous character and we’ve been sympathetic to its features over the course of the six-month renovation, while also adding a Mexican theme.”
Around 40 new jobs have been created by the venture, with eight kitchen staff alone who will be preparing dishes such as tacos, fajitas and empanadas.
The drinks menu will also have a Latin American flavour, with options including premium tequilas such as Patron and Desperados on draught.
Mike added: “We want this to be a restaurant where families and large groups can come and have a relaxed, fun meal with good food and good service.”
New Style Leisure operations manager Joe Gullis said there had been much anticipation for the new venture, which will open on weekends primarily before operating seven days a week.
“There’s been so much interest on social media. In one day alone we had 300 applications for jobs,” he said. “Also, people are really interested in new restaurants in the city.
“Things are changing in Sunderland, we’ve seen that with our other night life ventures. It’s not like it was a few years ago, people are choosing to come here instead of Durham and Newcastle to go to bars like P’s & Q’s, Port of Call, Hidden and The Engine Rooms, places where they can get premium drinks and catch up with friends.”