A NEW restaurant quarter could persuade swathes of Gloucester’s over-30s who do not want to come into the city in the evening to give it a second chance.
They are turned off by a lack of one defined area for eateries and the bars of Eastgate Street do not appeal to the older generation, councillors have found. Finding new ways to boost the city’s evening economy has been the focus of a special task force of city councillors over the past few months.
They said a new restaurant quarter, brighter street lighting and better transport links will help to drive people back into the city.
Gloucester mayor Chris Chatterton, who has been involved in the task force, said: “There is a feeling that we cater well for a particular part of the population, but not so well for the 30 to 50-year-olds and the silver pound.
“We have been looking at what is keeping them away from the city centre and we found that some still have a negative perception of the city.
“We want to see a recognised restaurant quarter. People felt that there wasn’t a place in the city centre that was attracting them despite there being a few good, but isolated, restaurants on offer.”
Sebastian Da Silva has run his tapas restaurant Sebz in Northgate Street for seven years and has been operating eateries in the city centre for 27 years.
He said: “I think it will be very difficult but it is a good idea. But, in a city, I’m not so sure all the restaurants and cafes should be all close together. I’d like to see them spread out so people go to other parts of the city too.”
He said it would be a “difficult” decision to move his own business to any new restaurant quarter.
The task force, which discussed the plans on Wednesday night, also wants to see better co-ordination between major events and night time businesses such as pub and bars. It pointed to the Three Choirs Festival, held last year, in which 2,000 people left the cathedral after a performance late into the evening but had nowhere to go afterwards.
New evening vitality grants are being given out by Gloucester City Council to firms who want to open new restaurants and bars in the city and several expressions of interest have been received.
Council leader Paul James said: “The Quays have done incredibly well and we can be proud of that but the city centre needs to raise its game and get a share of the action.”
Shops will be encouraged to hold late-night shopping events and bars will be asked to put on special offers during major events as part of the proposals.
JUSTIN Hudson is
Manager of Butlers bar, chairman of Gloucester LVA
and a director of the new Business Crime Reduction Partnership in the city.
"My basic stance for a Gloucester wish list would be for Eastgate Street to be made into a single lane of vehicular traffic, making the pavements wider on either side, allowing a Parisian cafe-style culture with outside eating areas, with heated umbrellas. We need a mainline food establishment to be sited in Eastgate Street, namely a large KFC, or Burger King, to bring the standard up of current late night offerings. We need a cafe- style culture, with street dining, street furniture, maybe some trees under lit. This is all very achievable with a vision and a hunger for change. I'm hoping the King's Quarter development will kick start things, we could rename the street, the Eastgate Quarter."