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Norfolk Business Awards 2019

New Last Wine Bar owners reveal their plans for the restaurant

PUBLISHED: 14:14 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:00 09 March 2019

The new owners and management team of The Last Wine Bar: (from left) Lynda Baxter, Mark Loveday, Emma Neal, Richard Maxwell, Iain McCarten, Mark Duffy, Vince Pearson. Photo: Newman Associates

The new owners and management team of The Last Wine Bar: (from left) Lynda Baxter, Mark Loveday, Emma Neal, Richard Maxwell, Iain McCarten, Mark Duffy, Vince Pearson. Photo: Newman Associates

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The new owners of one of Norfolk's most celebrated restaurants have said their purchase of the eatery will be an "evolution, not a revolution".

The Last wine bar and restaurant.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Last wine bar and restaurant. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Last Wine Bar, which has been in Norwich for almost 30 years, was bought out this week by a consortium of four investors.

The move was made after the restaurant’s founder, James Sawrey-Cookson announced his retirement from the business, aged 67.

MORE: Norwich restaurant The Last Wine Bar saved from closure by four regular customers

The four new co-owners of the eatery are management consultant Lynda Baxter, Mark Duffy, chairman at Dardan Security, local businessman Mark Loveday, and Vince Pearson chairman of Waterfall Elior.

The Last Wine Bar and Restaurant, St Georges Street, has been purchased by four investors. Photo : Steve AdamsThe Last Wine Bar and Restaurant, St Georges Street, has been purchased by four investors. Photo : Steve Adams

Mr Loveday, founder of market investment advisors Loveday and Partners, said the buyout would see the restaurant undergo an “evolution, not a revolution.”

He said: “The Last Wine Bar is so special to me because it’s marked so many milestones in my own life. Birthday parties, anniversaries, and my wife’s baby shower when she was expecting our first child.”

He continued: “When we heard the James was retiring, myself and the other investors got together. We didn’t want the community of Norwich to lose such a fantastic independent restaurant.

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“We think the fabric of the restaurant is fantastic, but obviously there’s now some room for investment.”

The restaurant will be run by a management team made up of manager Emma Neal, head chef Iain McCarten, deputy manager Gracie Sutton and business support coach Richard Maxwell.

He said: “There’s such a strong management team already in position that we would never think to change that. Iain is such a talented chef and has the drive and ability to go far. Plus, the kitchen staff are excellent.”

Mr Loveday said that he and his partners have no intention of changing what is at the heart of the eatery.

“We’re not looking to make a quick buck,” Mr Loveday said. “We’re Norfolk people who care about this restaurant. We don’t need to try and compete with the national chains, because their pockets are deeper than ours.

“What’s at the heart of this place is an exceptional wine menu, a challenging menu – in the fact there’s too much to pick from – and a welcoming feel.”

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