New Ipswich restaurant hopes to open late spring - smaller than planned

The former pub and Iceland store that is to be converted into a buffet restaurant.

The former pub and Iceland store that is to be converted into a buffet restaurant. - Credit: Archant

Work to convert a former town centre supermarket into the largest restaurant in Ipswich is carrying on – but it will be smaller than first proposed.

Spooners World Buffet restaurant is due to open in the former Iceland store in St Matthews Street in April next year – but it has changed its plans and will now not include the former Victoria pub on the top of Civic Drive.

A new planning application has been lodged with the borough council to reduce the space of the restaurant, but work to prepare for the new venue is continuing because the owners already have permission to use the former Iceland store as a restaurant – that was granted earlier this year.

Mariano Proietti, who is agent for the restaurant operator Mighty Rhino Ltd, said the decision had been taken to change the plans but it should not delay its opening plans.

He said: “It will be a bit smaller because it is going in one building rather than two – but we are already doing work under the existing permission and hope to be open in the spring.”

The restaurant will have space for up to 336 diners at a time – but the company’s application says that none of its existing establishments has ever operated at full capacity.

At its existing restaurants in Chatham and Basildon it typically attracts 250 diners over two sittings between Monday and Wednesday evenings and 500 over two sittings between Thursdays and Sundays.

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It would be open between noon and 10.30pm from Monday to Saturday, with a two-hour closure during the afternoon, and from noon to 10pm on a Sunday.

The revised planning application has just been received by the borough council and is expected to be discussed by the authority’s planning and development committee early in the new year.

If the new application is agreed, a new use will need to be found for the former pub which was later turned into a base for a drugs re-habilitation service before that closed a few years ago.

It was built in the late 1960s when Civic Drive was created and was called at various times the Queen’s Head and the Victoria before it finally called time on its life as a pub about 15 years ago.

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