Restaurateur Andrew Booker believes Kirkham is on the way up, thanks to the £10m regeneration masterplan thanks to funding from both Historic England and the Government’s Future High Streets Fund, so much so he has put his money where his mouth is and invested in the high street’s future.
He and son James have opened the market town’s newest fine dining establishment – The Old Bank on Poulton Street.
They have transformed the former Midland/HSBC bank premises into a 44-cover restaurant serving the best in British cuisine, all created using locally sourced ingredients.
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The Old Bank has been the talk of the town ever since a Griffin sculpture appeared above the door in lockdown. Modelled on the old Midland bank logo, Archie, was created at Kirkham’s Archforge blacksmiths.
Andrew and James are no strangers to Kirkham having set up the Tap and Vent brewhouse, also on Poulton Street, three years ago.
Andrew said: “Our plans for the restaurant were in place before the pandemic. We always felt a high-quality eatery should be well received and it has been great to finally welcome customers. The feedback since we opened has been really pleasing.”
Kirkham has been awarded £6.3m from the Government’s Future High Street Fund – the only town in Lancashire to win a slice of the fund.
This followed hot-on-the-heels of the £3.6m secured through Kirkham’s successful bid to become one of Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zones.
Major improvements will be made to the public realm and opportunities created to not only help existing businesses bounce back and thrive post-pandemic but encourage new ones to open on the high street.
Andrew and James project managed The Old Bank’s build themselves and were assisted along the way by a £10,000 grant from Fylde Council’s ARG Vacant Premises Grant scheme.
Andrew, who previously ran Hastings restaurant in Lytham, and set up Lytham Brewery with James, added: “I think it’s very exciting times for Kirkham – there is a real sense that the town is on the up.
He added: “We do have a few empty shops, but not as many as other similar towns, and I think Kirkham is up and rising.
“What’s important is we create a culture where people are choosing not to go out of town to eat and actually stop in their hometown. I really think that is changing for the better.
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