A new city centre bar will combine two venues in one if innovative plans get the green light.
Business partners Neville Sidebottom and Rob Lamont are the brains behind the quirky vision that aims to breathe new life into a quiet part of Bridge Street Row East.
The idea is to create a small wine bar at Row level and a Belgian café bar upstairs with a distinctive ambience in each – although customers would be free to wander between the two.
Planning and listed building applications have been lodged for change-of-use to a bar-restaurant with permission sought for bi-folding doors so the shop front can be completely opened up on a warm summer’s day.
Neville, who runs the successful Artichoke café bar and bistro by the Chester canal with chef Rob, said: “This would be two small intimate spaces – a small Belgian café bar upstairs and a little wine bar downstairs.
“I think it would be fun and good for Chester .”
With a range of Belgian beers on offer above, at Row level there would be a wine menu spanning ‘good honest house plonk up to the expensive’ from across the globe.
The simple culinary offering would be in the form of high quality small plates of cooked meats, paté and speciality cheeses served with artisanal bread.
Like Artichoke, it wouldn’t be a music venue but an informal meeting place alive to the sound of chatter, which Manchester-born Neville hopes would be the opposite of ‘uppity’.
He wants to attract the pre and post theatre and dining crowd. And he is excited about making the most of the grade II-listed building’s features including the vaulted upstairs ceiling and old beams.
The premises used to be occupied by arts and crafts business Funky Aardvark but has been empty since July 2017 and no retail interest has been expressed to the agents.
A document supporting the plans says total capacity would be 80 people and the development could create up to 20 jobs. It suggests repurposing the building would enhance the conservation area; bringing an empty building back into use and ‘providing more activity in the area’.
Proposed opening times are 10am to 11pm every day.