Bowling alley and restaurant planned for former Merge restaurant on Dereham Road in Norwich

The Regal - now Merge restaurant.

The Regal - now Merge restaurant. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Boutique bowling could be next on the menu at the site of the old Merge restaurant on Dereham Road.

 WETHERSPOONS CITY GATES PUB, DEREHAM ROAD .

WETHERSPOONS CITY GATES PUB, DEREHAM ROAD . - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

The all-you-can-eat Asian buffet closed its doors in November of last year, and now a new company, Bowling House Ltd, is seeking to convert the ground floor into a bowling alley and restaurant.

Jack Thompson, director of Bowling House Ltd, said there is 'clearly a market' for the venue in Norwich.

'By boutique we refer to an intimate venue with only five lanes designed more as a intimate experience,' he said. 'The bar will be serving the best in wines, beers, spirits and cocktails.

'The set up will be more adult orientated and less family driven as per the multi lane operations in and around Norwich currently. We think the venue will work well for groups, parties and couples. The food offer will be set up for sharing using fresh, local ingredients taking inspiration from classic modern dishes.


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'Having visited the bowling alleys in Norwich it was frustrating to have such a sterile experience with poor quality food and beverage on offer. Other cities have had boutique lanes for many years and there is clearly a market for it here in Norwich.'

In a planning statement to Norwich City Council, agent McArthur Tring said: 'The property has been used most recently as 'Merge' restaurant but the operation closed down in November last year.

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'The applicants intend to invest in the property and re-open it as a boutique restaurant/bowling alley.

'Pre-application discussions took place between the applicants and the local planning authority where is was established that there is no objection to the principle of such a use which was confirmed to be a mix of D2 and A3.

The courtyard beer garden will remain, the applications states, with opening hours from 9am to midnight on Monday Friday, and Sundays and bank holidays.

It would open between 9am and 2am on Saturdays.

The Merge restaurant hit headlines in 2015 as one of only a handful of venues in the city to receive a zero hygiene rating. While it had soon turned around its rating, it eventually closed its doors last November.

Originally the Regal cinema, it housed a bingo hall and casino before becoming derelict and then being taken over by the Wetherspoon's pub chain, which opened it as the City Gates pub in 1999.

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