A vegetarian businessman ate meat for the first time in a decade in a quest to find the perfect burgers for his new venue.
Ben Wall believes so strongly in serving quality burgers and beer at No 2 Church Lane that he briefly returned to eating meat for a research tasting trip.
After trying out some of the best burgers in Manchester, Leeds and London, Ben will be serving up a menu of 17 different burger varieties at the new bar which has opened in the heart of Sunderland’s burgeoning cultural quarter.
Specialising in craft beer and burgers, No 2 Church Lane has opened in the former Alenia’s music shop, which has moved to High Street West, and the adjacent Concept Eye Clinic.
As such, the new venture overlooks the hub of cultural activity which will be centred around the transformation of the Old Fire Station into a restaurant and arts space.
The venue, named after its address, has already opened its doors to drinkers and will begin serving food from next weekend.
Ben, who already runs the successful Independent night spot in Holmeside, said: “I haven’t eaten meat for ten years but wanted to make sure what we were serving here was of a high quality.
“The trade off to my ethics is that I’ll be encouraging meat eaters to try our vegetarian and vegan burgers. Vegetarians won’t just have to settle for a falafel burger, we’ll have seven or eight options on the menu.
“We’re in talks with local farmers and we want to use organic and ethically-sourced produce.”
Around £10,000 has been invested in the venue, which took six months to complete.
Ben said: “We’d already taken over the lease at Alenia’s and I was in the building with the architect when we noticed the opticians moving out so I asked the landlord about taking over that lease too.
“I was looking for something different to Independent, which is based around its events. But this venue is somewhere people can come and relax for a nice beer and a nice burger. There’s been a lot of new openings recently and it’s great for the city centre, there’s more variety now than ever before. People don’t just have to stick to the same route.”
Draught beers include San Miguel, Shed Head, Shipyard and Vedett, while the choice of 70 bottled beers include brews from Beavertown, Darwin and Old Hag.
Speaking about the location, Ben said: “I was involved in the Old Fire Station in the very early stages. This location is perfect for tying into the changes that are happening in this part of the city, plus we have one of the best urban views in the city, looking on to the Fire Station, the Dun Cow, the Empire and the Minster.”
The decor features stripped back walls and period features which have helped to preserve the character of the historic building.