‘We wouldn’t want Pedro’s to fall into disrepair’
Every effort will be made to ensure the now empty Pedro's restaurant in Norwich does not become an eyesore, it has been claimed.
Councillors assured this newspaper that they would try to re-let the building, in Chapelfield Gardens, quickly after the shock news that the Mexican restaurant had closed down.
One council member suggested the building, owned by Norwich City Council, could be used as a cafe in the park or even as a community centre.
However, there are an increasing number of empty commercial buildings, both former retail and office units, around the city. Many are boarded up because of risks from vandals and squatters.
Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth, said: 'We absolutely wouldn't want Pedro's to fall into disrepair. It's a good building in a lovely location and deserves to be used for the good of the Norwich public.
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'Pedro's was a city institution, I can actually remember it being converted when I was a student at the UEA. There are opportunities, the people running Pedro's said there was too much competition and not enough footfall and Norwich has now a large and vibrant restaurant scene which has changed enormously since Pedro's started and people didn't need to go out of their way to go to Chapelfield but just because it didn't work for Pedro's, doesn't mean it can't work for someone else.'
Paul Kendrick, Norwich City Council cabinet member for resources, agreed, saying: 'Pedro's has a central location and it is all about location so I don't think it would be impossible to see it re-let.'
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A spokesman from Norwich City Council said the business owners had been contacted about the lease but had no more information at this stage.
Pedro's, run by directors Andre Serruys and Matthew Ward, closed suddenly on Sunday night with 20 redundancies. Mr Ward said Mr Serruys had tried at one stage to buy the building from the council.
Overwhelming support has poured in for the restaurant, which had been going for almost 30 years.
One diner, Rob Turner, said: 'Pedro's was my special place. Every year for my birthday, that's where we went. The people there were lovely, the portions massive.
'Yes, other places do Mexican food. But there is that extra layer that comes from a local business, and for me this will be a hard thing to replace. They responded to every review, positive or negative, and that warm welcome meant everything to me. As much as it's sad I won't get to use my last gift voucher or have one final meal there, I just want to wish all the best to the staff and hope they find the work they deserve.
'Adios to my happy place.'