A family firm hopes its late night pudding parlour will be a recipe for success, after investing more than £300,000 into developing a sweet eatery in Newcastle’s Bigg Market.
Asim Mahmood and two of his brothers, who run a pharmacy business in Yorkshire, have ploughed the profits from the business into opening Newcastle’s first franchise of popular ice cream and dessert restaurant Creams.
The brand is proving successful in London and the South East, where 18 stores have opened in the last year, selling the firm’s imported Italian gelato ice cream, crepes, coffees, milkshakes and cakes.
Keen to expand the Creams name further, the firm has welcomed Mr Mahmood and his family’s purchase of a franchise, which is set to open next month at 19 Bigg Market and 64/66 Grainger Street, the prominent building vacated last year by Pizza Hut.
Around 20 to 25 jobs will be created initially, but before the business can open, Mr Mahmood is investing heavily in transforming the interior and exterior, fitting new seating booths and tables and display cabinets.
No alcohol will be sold on the premises, but the entrepreneur plans to open late.
Exact opening hours have yet to be agreed through licensing but Mr Mahmood has applied for permission from Newcastle City Council to open from 11am to midnight Sunday to Thursday, and until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Mr Mahmood, who is moving to Newcastle to manage the store once it is open, is confident Newcastle has an appetite for the Creams culture and plans to open further franchises if he is proved right.
“We’re bringing the Creams name up from London and think it will do well,” he said.
“There are around 14 to 15 stores in the London area, and it has done so well that the owners expect the total number of stores to double in the next six months.
“We have a team of builders currently working at the Newcastle building while I’m down at the Hounslow branch in Kent, going through training.
“My family and I are based in Leeds but we wanted to go into a city that’s growing fast and has the audience for a venture like this, and Newcastle really fits the bill for us to come and establish ourselves.
“We first started looking into this around 18 months ago and went for the Grainger Street building because of its position in a very lively area, where footfall is very high.
“It’s also an up and coming area and we had discussions with the council who told us about the Heritage Lottery Fund money being put into regenerating the Bigg Market, so we thought the time was right too.”
News of Creams’ opening comes just weeks after the opening of Kaspas in nearby Clayton Street, which first introduced the concept of serving up late night ice creams to sweet-toothed customers.
“A culture has very rapidly developed among young people, students and families, where they go out for the evening to have a dessert.
“I’ve visited six or seven in the London area over the last week and the atmosphere in them is very lively, friendly and vibrant, so I can see why they are popular.
“There’s a real gap in the market in the North for this type of business, so we plan to kick off in Newcastle and are already looking at another building in Leeds.
“It’s a big investment for us but the returns are very good, so hopefully it will work out well.”