Nando's to open at former New Rose pubBy Victoria Smith
September 30, 2011
Wokingham's dining out culture is to get a spicy new addition in the next few months as Nando’s is to take over an empty pub in the town centre.
The news is a victory for people power as a Facebook campaign, which won the support of more than 1,400 people, has been credited with convincing the chain to open a branch in the town.
The popular Portuguese chain, which has two branches in Reading, has taken on the lease for the former New Rose pub in Market Place.
Half of the pub was converted into a Café Rouge last year, but the remaining part of the building has been empty since the pub served its last pint at the start of 2010.
The man behind the Facebook campaign, Gareth, who lives in Wokingham and has asked for only his first name to be used, said he met with the regional director for Nando’s and was told the Facebook page convinced the company to consider Wokingham as a location.
Gareth said: “I’m delighted with the news. This will bring some diversity to the dining options in Wokingham.
“I’d like to thank all of the people on Facebook who ‘liked’ the fan page. Without you Nando’s might have overlooked Wokingham in favour of other bigger towns nearby.”
There had been speculation Nando’s would open in Lloyds TSB in Broad Street after the building’s owner, Warrant Estates Ltd, applied to convert the branch into a restaurant and flats.
However, this proposal has hit a stumbling block after Wokingham Borough Council rejected the planning application, which the developer has since appealed, and Nando’s has opted to take the New Rose unit.
It is understood the restaurant will be open by February next year, however the letting agent who marketed the unit believes the chain could be open before Christmas.
Stephen Fixman, from Stephen & Matthews lettings agent, confirmed the lease had been taken over by Nando’s.
He said: “They should be in there fitting it out at the moment or very close to starting.”
Clive Wallis, landlord of the Broad Street Tavern, welcomed the news a restaurant would be opening on the site, but added it was a sign of the times that another pub did not take on the unit.
He said: “I think it’s a great idea as everybody knows Nando's. It is a shame to lose a pub but times are changing and people want different things.”
The Wokingham Times contacted Nando’s, however the company had not responded at the time of going to press.
The proposal to convert Lloyds TSB has gone to appeal, however in the meantime the applicant has submitted another similar application to the council, with a decision expected in the next few weeks.