Two Norwich businessmen who set up an independent bar and restaurant in the city centre exactly a year ago have shown that you can compete with the national chains in a tough market.

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Businessmen Jonathon Powley and Steven King, and silent partner Paul Alcock, opened Bar 11 at a former office building in Upper King Street last September.

Their idea of a ‘high-end’ London bar took a while to get going, but since the start of the year it has become one of the ‘in’ places to go to.

The number of people it employs has nearly doubled to about 60, and it’s been so successful that they plan to open another venue in the city next Easter, creating more jobs.

Mr King said: “We have had an astonishing 12 months, and it shows that two local guys with a winning formula can compete with the big companies such as Luminar Leisure, Vodka Revolution and All Bar One.

“As we are a local firm, we employ local people and the money goes back in to the area, rather than outside, as with some of these big national companies.”

Work on the venue started on April 1 last year and the five-month building project cost about £800,000.

Mr King added: “We had an idea that we would do well but have been astonished how well.

“It started off slowly and we had a few quiet months. But after Christmas and from about February we have had queues every Saturday night.

“I have been in the business a long time, and spent eight years as head security at Mercy nightclub, so I knew there was a market for the over-25s.

“At first I think people thought we were too posh and it put people off, but as word spread, it’s taken off.

“It’s been a lot of hard work and we have had a lot of help from local businesses.”

They are celebrating their first anniversary with a line-up of special events including performances from Bill Downs, from BBC’s The Voice, next weekend.

The Evening News has been urging customers to support local pubs, bars and breweries in our Love your Local campaign.

To see more stories from the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal.

Have you got a story about a new bar/restaurant opening in Norwich? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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