Pioneering £1.5million plans to create a new piazza at Gloucester Quays have emerged – as family restaurant TGI Friday’s revealed it is moving to the city.
Market Square will become an open-plan area set to replace the car park in front of the Waterways Museum.
The popular US brand TGI Friday’s – which stands for Thank Goodness It’s Friday – will occupy the 5,000sq ft unit that runs along Llanthony Road underneath the Gloucester Antiques Centre. It will create more than 40 jobs and is expected to open after Easter.
Industrial canopies in the car park will be removed to make way for a stunning square ideal for hosting outdoor events such as the Rugby World Cup 2015 ‘fanzone’. Coffee shops Caffe Corretto and Café Tucci will overlook the square, while new Spanish-style steps could replace the wall that runs along Llanthony Road.
When a new Wetherspoons arrives later in the year, it is hoped it will create an idyllic setting surrounded by food and drink outlets.
Plans for the new square are expected go before Gloucester City Council’s planning committee in the next few weeks, while city councillors are also expected to approve a licence for the new TGI Friday’s opening hours.
Jason Pullen, managing director of Peel Outlets, which runs the Gloucester Quays shopping and leisure complex, said: “This square will become a real attraction in itself, being the perfect place to relax in a vibrant cafe setting, come for a meal at one of the nearby restaurants or to enjoy the popular markets and events such as the food festival.
“At the moment it is just one big car park and I hope these plans will really transform the area and make it a real focal point. When the Rugby World Cup comes to Gloucester, this could be a fantastic place for all the family to come and enjoy the matches on giant screens.”
Councillor Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “TGI Friday’s coming to the city is great news. The chain has been undergoing a bit of a revival lately and it will be really popular with families.
“Bringing in such a big name and filling a prominent unit will be a real sign of progress at the Quays.
“When the Waterways car park is turned into a public square, the whole feel of the area will change and take its transformation to the next level.
“I’m very conscious that we need to balance further development at the Quays with tangible progress in the city centre and we’ll be working hard to deliver that too.”
The multi-storey car park at the Quays boasts more than 1,400 car parking spaces, meaning the centre has ample capacity to lose the spaces in the current car park.
TGI Friday’s plan to move into Gloucester comes after a remarkable turnaround at the once fledgling brand, which had seen its customer numbers falling up until four or five years ago.
But now it is hoping to double the number of restaurants it has in the UK by 2020.
Karen Forrester, UK managing director for the restaurant, said: “Five years ago we had no pipeline of future sites at all. Landlords saw us as very dated and just not sexy enough. Now we’re a credible brand again and can decide where we want to open.”
She says a new-look TGI Friday’s is focusing on a more adult, bar-focused approach after previously telling the Daily Mail that the restaurants had been “childish and clown-like”.
GET TO KNOW ALL ABOUT TGI FRIDAY’s
Classy leather seating, oak floors and open kitchens greet diners in the new-look TGI Friday’s.
The first TGI Friday’s opened in New York in 1965 and it first reached the UK in Birmingham in 1985.
It now has 61 restaurants in the UK and in 2012 reported a turnover of more than £148 million.
Every one of its restaurants has received a top five-star rating for hygiene.
A WHOLE host of new restaurants are on offer at Gloucester Quays now – and more are on the way.
Soon we will see the arrival of TGI Friday’s but quick on their heels will be Coal Grill and Bar, which has set a July opening date.
Trendy bar Portivo Lounge, American restaurant Ed’s Easy Diner, Italian eatery Zizzi, Mexican joint Chimichanga and Chinese buffet The Real China all opened their doors in 2013.
They sit comfortably alongside existing restaurants Pizza Express and Nando’s which have been longstanding tenants at the Quays.
A new upmarket JD Wetherspoon has been earmarked for the former Coots cafe, next to the Waterways Museum, while Gloucester Brewery, which is based next door, is planning to open its own boozer by the lifting bridge in Llanthony Road.
Gloucester City Council leader Paul James has said that more needs to be done to make sure the city centre sees investment to match the new offering at the Quays.
The new So Thai restaurant, at Bearland, is the latest restaurant to open in the city itself this week.
Gloucester is one of 20 areas across the UK which has been chosen to take part in a Government scheme that will help to boost the evening economy in the city. The 12-month programme will give the city access to other areas that have introduced schemes that provide a variety of choices in the evening.