Boss of cocktail bar in curiosity shop plans street reopening event

Greg Williams and Dillon at Arboretum, Norwich, a cocktail bar in a curiosity shop

Greg Williams and Dillon at Arboretum. Mr Williams hopes to be able to hold a street event to reopen his cocktail bar. - Credit: Archant

The owner of a bar housed in an antique shop in the Norwich Lanes is planning on opening outside next month with a special celebration.

Greg Williams, who runs Arboretum, St Benedicts Street, has teamed up with the Tipsy Vegan restaurant nearby to offer food and drinks evenings in the open air from Thursday, April 15.

Arborteum cocktail bar, St Benedicts, Norwich

Arboretum in St Benedict's. - Credit: Archant

The idea is to open on Thursdays-Saturdays initially with food and drink using the bar's current outside area as well as utilise the current parking spaces at the front of the building. Mr Williams hopes to set up hay bales and bunting for the new street service which will finish at 10pm.

He's applied for planning permission from Norwich City Council for a new pavement licence which allows removable furniture to be placed adjacent to premises. A new streamlined process means businesses can secure these licences quicker than usual and they can remain in place for up to the end of September.

Greg Williams, who runs Arboretum, Norwich

Greg Williams at Arboretum. - Credit: Archant

Mr Williams is expecting an answer in the next week-10 days.

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The idea comes after problems occurred last year when some restaurants and cafes put out chairs and tables in St Benedicts after a traffic ban was imposed. However, it resulted in complaints from people living above some of the shops as well as concerns over traffic disruption.

Mr Williams said his idea was quite different because nothing would be placed on the actual street. But he was hopeful of obtaining planning after having to be closed over Covid. Mr Williams has kept trade going by delivering his 'pharmaceutical' cocktails.

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"The financial strain has been there, it's more psychological for business owners like us who are used to working constantly and adapting but there's only so much you can do with just delivery.

"You just have to find the energy to push through and take every opportunity. I see coming out of lockdown as what happened in the 1920s after the Great Depression, everyone will want to celebrate."

If the initial Thursday-Saturday opening goes well, Mr Williams said he would consider reopening for seven days a week.

He opened Arboretum in 43, St Benedicts Street in 2018 which is a cocktail bar in an antiques/curiosity shop. He offers cocktails made from old fashioned Victorian recipes.

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