New restaurant could improve trade, say chamberBy Jon Nurse
March 21, 2013
A business expert is calming cynicism surrounding Lloyds TSB’s 150-metre move across the town as the former Broad Street bank is stripped to become a new restaurant.
Many shoppers weren’t enthusiastic about another restaurant opening in town centre, but Mark Walton, president of Wokingham Chamber of Commerce, believes the addition could improve trade.
Mr Walton said: “There is an argument to be said that another restaurant coming in would drive up quality.Everyone would have to work harder to sell their coffee or spaghetti and you will not find people complaining when the quality goes up.”
Workmen have been clearing the bank this week, while Warrant Investments waits on the fate of a planning application for a new Georgian-style window shopfront.
“People shouldn’t be worrying about another restaurant coming in but the quality it will offer,” said Mr Walton.
He added. “If the quality of a new unit goes down then the quality of the street goes down. Branding is a particularly important for Wokingham. The feel of a historic market town is what we want to maintain.”
Patricia Way, 77, of Finchampstead, said: “I think it would be ridiculous.
“We have so many restaurants in Wokingham that no town could beat us for the size of it. I counted them the other day and I reached 19 in just two parts of the town.”
Planning permission was granted in November for the Broad Street building to be used as a restaurant and cafe.
The development would also include two first floor flats and a rear extension for a further two flats with parking.
The Lloyds TSB branch is due to reopen at its new home in Denmark Street at 9.30am today.
Staff have been issuing leaflets for the last few weeks detailing the timing and relocation of the move, directing customers to the Bracknell and Woodley branches during the temporary closure.