The owner of Middlesbrough’s new Rio Brazilian Restaurant said he was determined to become part of the Centre Square success story.
When the easing of Covid restrictions allow, the restaurant – part of a business which also includes the Tomahawk brand – will be the 13th opened by Howard Eggleston in just three years.
Mr Eggleston’s first restaurant was in Potto in North Yorkshire and, as well as Middlesbrough, he has four others in the pipeline. He employs 550 people.
The Rio Brazilian Restaurant is in Albert Road – which borders Centre Square – on the site of Bistrot Pierre, one of six of a chain of 25 restaurants put up for sale in July because of the lockdown.
Mr Eggleston – who lives in Yarm – said he was at a meeting discussing the possible purchase of two of the restaurants, when it emerged that Middlesbrough was also on the disposal list.
“We got straight onto it,” he said. “Middlesbrough was already a target for us and we were aware of the investment going into Centre Square, and then began reading about the businesses moving into the new offices. There’s a great deal of potential and it was clear that people had a lot of faith in the future of the area.”
The Rio Brazilian Restaurant is eagerly anticipated even though it has not yet been able to open its doors to customers.
“The news has gone down amazingly well,” said Mr Eggleston.
“We’ve got an incredible following on social media and the people of Middlesbrough have really got right behind it. I think they want their own restaurants and something they can be proud of.”
He added: “The location and setting – as well as what’s being developed in and around Centre Square – all paint a very positive picture for Middlesbrough’s future.”
The multi-million pound Centre Square development was launched five years ago to create high quality office space to attract occupiers providing well-paid jobs.
It was anticipated that shops, bars and restaurants would also benefit as employees spent their cash on local amenities.
Four companies have announced that they are moving into the Centre Square offices, bringing around a thousand members of staff, and last month Ashall Projects – the developer behind the scheme – submitted a planning application for the next phase, Six Centre Square: a four storey 40,000 sq ft Grade A office building in Melrose Street.
Mark Ashall, the director of Ashall Projects – who is also the co-owner of the Holiday Inn Express in Centre Square as well as the new restaurant’s premises – said: “We are delighted to welcome Rio Brazilian.
“During these difficult times it’s great to be working with forward looking operators like Mr Eggleston who has recognised the progress that is being made and realise the potential. I aim to be one of Rio’s first customers when it opens.
“Despite everything, the Centre Square development is moving forward. We hope to hear soon that Six Centre Square has received planning approval. One of Centre Square’s key attractions is its proximity to a wide range of amenities including quality restaurants like Rio Brazilian.”
Richard Wilson, senior associate with the commercial property agent Dodds Brown which acted for Ashall Projects, said the restaurant’s 10-year lease demonstrates a long-term commitment.
“The hospitality sector has been hit so hard by the pandemic – and it was really sad that Bistrot Pierre had to close – but it’s vitally important that we still look ahead,” he said.
“The new letting highlights Howard’s vision, which has created a highly successful business in a very short time, and the attraction of the Centre Square location.”
He added: “Centre Square is leading a revival of Middlesbrough town centre and it’s crucial that the momentum continues as more businesses continue to move there.”