A greek restaurateur who made the North East his home more than 20 years ago has created 12 jobs after a six figure investment to transform a Sunderland pub into an upmarket eatery and bar.
Kostas Aslanidis, who also owns the Marina Vista Ristorante at Roker Marina, bought The Albion five months ago and has worked with wife, Lijie Zhang, and a team of craftsman to refurbish it.
The couple, who have renamed the venue The Albion At Ryhope Restaurant & Bar, however, were keen to convey a sense of tradition.
It is thought the premises date back to 1920s and, to reflect its history, features such the original fireplace and last orders bell have been retained, along with the striking bar, which has been reduced in size and restored.
Trained chef Mr Aslanidis, who moved to the North East in the early 1990s to study hotel catering and business, said: “It‘s very important to us to make a valuable contribution to the Ryhope area, and I’m confident that will happen.
“We have talked to residents and made sure they have been kept informed of our plans at every stage. I even went to a local community meeting to introduce myself. It is very important that they can see the positive improvements we are bringing.”
He added that a lot of hard work had gone into ensuring the re-fit was carried out to the highest standards
“We have invested heavily to create 12 full and part-time jobs and have rejuvenated what was for a long time a major feature in Ryhope and the surrounding area,” he siad.
“High quality food and drinks will be served within a wonderful setting which retains a traditional feel,”
In its new-look form, The Albion can cater for around 80 guests. It also features intimate side room that can be adapted to sit 45 people for special occasion bookings.
A 12-space car park has been created, alongside street parking spaces, and there are plans to add a conservatory.
Mrs Zhang played an integral role in transforming the interior, even flying to her native China to source lights, soft furnishings, tables and chairs.
“It’s strange but we came to Ryhope to view another property that was for sale but spotted The Albion and liked it more,” she said.
“At that point it was not on the market but amazingly the next day it was – perhaps it was fate.
“We both had a real sense of what we wanted to achieve here, and I knew of items in China that I thought would be perfect, so I did not mind making the journey at all.
“It’s wonderful that our vision has been received so well locally and that we have enjoyed great support for this venture at every step.”
The Albion will be serving a mix of traditional and contemporary dishes made with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.
It is open from 11.30am to 2.30pm, then from 5pm to 10.30pm on weekdays and Saturdays. Sunday opening hours are 11am to 10pm.