There are signs the restaurant revolution is over after the company behind phase two of Chester ’s dining quarter acknowledged only one potential occupant had been secured.
Planning consent is in place for five new restaurants within Grosvenor Shopping Centre opposite the first phase of the Pepper Street dining quarter which features Las Iguanas, Opera Grill, Coast to Coast and Chimichanga.
But work hasn’t started even though planning consent was granted more than a year ago.
And shopping centre owners HIG Chester Property Sarl have now lodged a proposed non-material amendment to its permission after revealing there is only one prospective occupier waiting in the wings with ‘no other clear interest from additional operators’.
A letter sent to Cheshire West and Chester Council explaining the alterations states: “Since the grant of permission in September 2016, the food and beverage side of the market has proven to be less resilient than expected and the number of potential A3 occupiers has now diminished significantly.
“However, detailed discussions have continued with one prospective operator, who is keen to take occupation of a restaurant unit as soon as possible.”
The document explains the proposal is to merge two ground floor units into one larger space to accommodate the undisclosed occupier with the displaced unit moved to the first floor.
It continued: “It is proposed that the works to develop the reconfigured unit are carried out as the first phase of development, with completion of the development of the other units and associated external works to progress until firm interest from additional operators to take these remaining units has been secured.”
Computer generated pictures of the original scheme had shown images featuring names and logos which bore more than a passing resemblance to those of Jamie Oliver , Wagamama and Côte Brasserie but which are spelled differently – Côte has since opened in Bridge Street.
News the dining quarter is faltering is likely to receive a mixed reception.
There have been murmurings of discontent from small independent restaurant owners about allowing even more eating chains to locate in Chester with fears there was insufficient demand for everyone to survive.
And the independents have been working with city MP Chris Matheson on a campaign to keep Chester special.
Mr Matheson said previously: “These are people who work their socks off providing something different, something that’s individual in Chester and as you can see from The Rows and from our history, Chester has thrived on its individuality and offering something different from other cities.
“They see big chains coming in, with large marketing budgets, that swamp out all of the independent traders. They want to come together, use that collective strength and sell themselves and sell their individual restaurants as part of a collective effort.”