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East Anglia Future 50

Former army major breathes new life into legendary Ipswich venue

PUBLISHED: 11:55 03 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:41 03 April 2019

Peter Gwizdala is hoping to transform Arlingtons of Ipswich into a cultural destination.

Peter Gwizdala is hoping to transform Arlingtons of Ipswich into a cultural destination.

Archant

Peter Gwizdala is a man with a very particular set of skills.

Peter Gwizdala is hoping to transform Arlingtons of Ipswich into a cultural destination.Peter Gwizdala is hoping to transform Arlingtons of Ipswich into a cultural destination.

During his time as an army major he was deployed to manage crises in war-torn countries and led teams through life or death situations.

But his latest mission has seen him face a new challenge entirely.

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Last year, Mr Gwizdala and his wife Alina took over Arlingtons of Ipswich and completed a six-figure makeover to rescue the site.

“Key skills in a war zone are key skills in business”, Mr Gwizdala said, “You pull together your best team. You hold your nerve and play the long game.

“I knew the site was special and when it came up for sale I felt the possibility of a dream of mine being realised.”

The building boasts a legendary status in the town – it housed Ipswich’s original Victorian museum and from the 1950s to early-90s achieved fame as the Arlingtons Dance hall and Ballroom.

Following the takeover it underwent a complete refurbishment including new toilets, central heating, electrics and plumbing.

And now the restaurant is set to open a deli-style shop on site to stock a range of restaurant quality frozen meals.

This latest addition continues Mr Gwizdala’s plans to make the venue a cultural destination.

He added: “Food, drink, music, the arts, we plan to have it all.”

However, during the refurbishment the couple had another unexpected problem to solve. As the reflooring got under way a distressed woman burst through the front door in tears.

“It turned out she had booked her wedding at the venue with the previous occupants who had failed to inform her they no longer owned the premises,” said Mr Gwizdala.

“I decided then and there to do the decent thing and ensure that they had a day to remember.”

The team rallied together and just hours after the paint had dried on the walls Arlingtons reopened to host the bride and groom.

Mr Gwizdala added: “Our opening night was quite nerve wracking.

“Not only did we pull it off, we realised that this building, with it’s wealth of history, was going to have a real future.”

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