Cod you believe this used to be Gandhi’s Temple?
After more than a £1million of investment, nine months of building work and much anticipation, Colmans Seafood Temple will finally open its doors at South Shields seafront tomorrow.
The brainchild of the family behind the internationally-renowned Colmans Fish & Chips in Ocean Road, the new restaurant is set to reel in diners with its offering of an oyster bar, sit-in restaurant and take away service.
The new venture has created 40 new jobs and has given new life to the under-used landmark, which first opened on the seafront as a bandstand in 1927.
Owner Richard Ord said the family felt strongly about retaining the history of the structure.
“It’s overwhelming how much everyone has got behind us,” he said. “When we first announced our plans I think the public were a little unsure because of the heritage of the landmark. But once they saw what we were going to build everyone has been so positive and have watched it grow.”
Talking about the building work, which has been years in the planning, Richard said: “The builders said it would have been easier to knock Gandhi’s Temple down and start again, but we didn’t want to do that. We’d prefer to spend extra money and keep it, so it’s here for future generations.”
As well as traditional fish and chips, which has seen the original Colmans scoop countless awards including Best Restaurant in the National Fish and Chip Awards, the new venture will feature an oyster bar serving small plates. Oysters will also be served in the take away on the ground floor for people to take onto the beach.
There will also be steak and burgers on the menu, which runs daily, for the non-seafood eaters. Sit-in prices are £8.75 for the classic cod and chips, while oysters are £2 each.
Richard said the Temple was lucky to have nature’s larder on its doorstep.
“We have the most amazing seafood from local day boats here, which provides some of the best quality seafood,” he said. “We have Lindisfarne oysters, lobster caught in Marsden and Whitburn and fish from North Shields, Hartlepool and Sunderland fish quays.”
Richard says the new business has been a labour of love, but he’s excited to see what people think of the new addition to the seafront.
He said: “People have driven past it every day and seen all the changes taking place, now they really seem to want to get in and see it for themselves and we’re really looking forward to their feedback. We want to know what they think.
“We think this is a great addition to the investments being made on the seafront. The more places we have here, the more people it will attract. We want the seafront to be a real destination for people and it’s certainly becoming the place to be.”
General manager Alex Vladoiu, who was previously a manager at Italian chain Carluccio’s, said: “Because of my background I think I can help raise the standard here, from serving traditional fish and chips to the more upmarket seafood.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to work here, especially working surrounded by those amazing sea views every day.”