Former Iceland store set to become Spoon World Buffet restaurant

Former Iceland and Victoria buildings that could become a new restaurant.

Former Iceland and Victoria buildings that could become a new restaurant.

The former Iceland store on St Matthew’s Street – along with the Victoria pub – could be converted into Ipswich’s largest restaurant if a planning application gets the go-ahead in September.

Kent-based Mighty Rhino Ltd wants to open a Spoon World Buffet restaurant on the site – with seating for well over 300 customers at a time.

Spoon World Buffet has operated in Chatham, Kent, since 2004 and expanded in 2011. Kevin Shen from Mighty Rhino said Ipswich offered a great opportunity for the restaurant.

He said: “If we get planning permission granted in the autumn we hope to open early in 2017 – it will take us about five months to get the restaurant converted and fitted out.”

Mr Shen said the investment his company was making in the premises was commercially confidential – but it was a significant expansion for them.

The restaurant will create at least 20 full-time and 20 part-time jobs, although Mr Shen said the total number employed could be greater.

Spoon World Buffet has Chinese, Indian, Thai, Brazilian, European, and Japanese dishes on offer.

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Customers pay a fixed charge and can then fill their plate with as much food as they can eat.

Iceland closed last autumn after it opened its new store in the Tower Ramparts – now Sailmakers – shopping centre beside the bus station.

The Victoria has not operated as a pub for several years – its most recent use has been as a drugs rehabilitation centre.

The site is a short walk from the town centre, but it is very near the New Wolsey Theatre and is close to other restaurants in the St Matthew’s Street/Norwich Road area.

Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere said the application was a clear vote of confidence in the future of the town.

He said: “It is very good news that a company like this wants to come in and make a significant investment in the town centre.

“I know this format is quite popular with many diners and I am sure it will be able to build up customers. It would be really good to see those buildings come back into use.”

Ipswich Council could discuss the planning application at the September meeting of its Planning and Development Committee.