New tapas bar and restaurant Cafe Andaluz has created a little corner of Spain in Newcastle where it is preparing to a warm welcome for its first customers ahead of the weekend.
The city's newest restaurant has taken over the prime former site of Italian restaurant Carluccio's near the Monument, on the corner of Grey Street and Grainger Street, where it has gone all-out with a Spanish makeover and is inviting diners to soak up a sunshine holiday atmosphere and enjoy some Andalusian cuisine.
On Wednesday, last-minute work was being carried out there in readiness for that evening's 'soft' launch for invited guests, ahead of the restaurant's opening to the public when customers will get to see the results of a £1m-plus investment.
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The chain's trademark design of mosaic tiles - direct from Spain - create a bright and breezy look over the restaurant's two floors, with the central tiled granite-top bar proving a main focal point upon entering the building.
Mosaics covering table tops and wall edgings too and the bright furnishings, artworks and giant lanterns dotted around the mix of tables and booths add to the upbeat mood.
Cafe Andaluz first launched in Scotland in 2008, with the aim of recreating a sense of Spain's Andalusian area, and there are branches in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen inviting customers on the company website to 'make your escape to Spain' and now promising to turn 'Grey Street into Ole Street'.
Newcastle is its sixth location - and first in England, says general manager David Taylor.
"This is bang in the heart of Newcastle - and opposite the Theatre Royal. It couldn't be any better," he adds.
Having to ship in the Spanish features - a trademark of all Cafe Andaluz venues - and having to work with the restrictions of a listed building meant that the revamp has been a time taking one.
But now the expansion brings new life to the building which used to be the NatWest bank before it converted to Carluccio's restaurant in 2013 and was then left empty last year when it was not included in a deal to rescue the then-troubled restaurant company.
The Cafe Andaluz takeover will see diners take full advantage once again of window views over Grainger Street and down the city's beautiful Grey Street, with a top vantage spot being offered by upstairs booth seating, specially-made to follow the curve of the historic building.
The second upstairs restaurant also includes its own bar while customers who might not want a meal are welcome to pop in downstairs for just a drink.
Besides holiday favourites such as paella, patatas bravas and sangria, the restaurant's all-day menu includes the less familiar butifarra negra - a Catalan blood sausage - and pinchitos morunos: Moorish pork skewers.
Spanish beers and cocktails are among the drinks choices and staff are also keen to introduce new cocktails especially for Newcastle.
For more information about Cafe Andaluz or to book visit the restaurant website here.
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