SIX months ago St John Street was a picture of commercial dereliction – but now Cestrians and visitors can eat, drink, dance and sleep at new premises just a few footsteps apart.
Work at the site facing the amphitheatre began in earnest in February 2007 and much of the street was relegated.
But now tourists and shoppers have at least four good reasons to be tempted to St John Street.
There is a Pizza Express for dining, a Pitcher and Piano bar for drinking and eating, Cruise for a night out and a Travelodge to put your head down afterwards.
But will they be a big enough draw to lure people from the boutique stores and pubs on the Rows and main streets? Its new occupiers all emphatically agree it will.
Michelle Sims, deputy manager at Pitcher and Piano, which opened at the start of this month, said the bar’s close proximity to Travelodge is great for custom.
She said: “Quite a few customers say they’re staying upstairs – it’s quite convenient having it there.
“It’s a perfect location for us and it’s nice to be part of a new part of Chester.
“With the tourist information centre round the corner, and a sign pointing down to the river from Eastgate Street, we get a lot of tourists.”
Pizza Express has now been open for two months.
Jo Williams, assistant manager, thinks its location is a firm base for future success after the chain’s Bridge Street store shut about seven years ago.
“There’s quite a buzz here on a weekend night,” she said. “We can get people into Cruise queue jumping and if any of their hen parties want food they can come to us. We all help each other.
“Since Pitcher and Piano and Travelodge opened, we’ve been a lot busier.”
Nick Harding, one of the business partners behind Cruise nightclub, said: “All of us work in the street together – there’s a good synergy. We’re promoting Chester as somewhere to sleep, eat, drink and dance.
“There must have been close to £10 million spent on developments this year. With a down- turn in spending, it’s a lot of investment in one street. They’re all quality offerings.”