Following its closure in October 2015, one of Durham’s prime restaurant locations is set for a revival as new leases are signed for the Aykley Heads’ site.
Jackson and O’Leary Catering Limited (Jackson and O’Leary), with assistance and legal advice from one of the region’s award-winning law firms Swinburne Maddison LLP, has announced it is to take over the former Bistro 21 site as the new venue for the company’s popular Finbarr’s Restaurant.
Having built up a loyal following for its excellent service and classic French influenced cuisine, Finbarrs, which originally operated out of the KingsLodge Hotel, Durham had to relocate following the hotel’s sale to hotel operator The Inn Collection Group.
Following a three-month hiatus, during which Mr O’Leary spent time identifying the right location for his popular eaterie and agreeing lease terms, Finbarrs is set to reopen mid-June.
Unusually, for an industry where staff turnover can often be high, all Finbarr’s 40 staff were retained during the transition period, showing a strong commitment to the company’s employees and a desire for continuity for its customers.
According to partner Victoria Walton, who heads up Swinburne Maddison’s commercial property team, what could have been a complex process to extend existing lease agreements was simplified thanks to the team’s extensive experience of these matters she said:
“Initially when Barry started looking at the site as a possible venue in which to relocate Finbarrs the landlord at Aykley Heads suggested keeping an existing lease and adding further documentation to create an overriding lease. We felt this was more complicated that it needed to be, particularly for our client and therefore negotiated a brand new mutually beneficial 20-year lease agreement.
“We are delighted to have been able to support Barry and his team at this exciting stage in the ongoing success of the Finbarr brand and wish him well in the new location.”
Wanting to put the Finbarr stamp on its new premises, Mr O’Leary is currently undertaking a full refurbishment and redecoration of the Grade II Listed property. He said:
“This is a new chapter for Finbarrs in Durham. The Aykley Heads setting is a great backdrop which complements the restaurant’s bistro style. Customers can expect the great level of service my team prides itself on giving and a menu with some favourite dishes with a twist.
“Throughout the negotiation process, the help and sound legal advice I have received from both Victoria and Gillian at Swinburne Maddison has been tremendous. I’ve worked with Swinburne Maddison for seven years and can’t fault the service I receive and their knowledge and expertise when it comes to dealing with negotiating leases and agreeing terms which suit our business model.”
In 2015, Jackson and O’Leary opened a second Finbarr restaurant, at Darlington’s Westpark, near Tillage Green.