New restaurant to open in Norwich’s Royal Arcade

Norwich's Royal Arcade. Pic: Archant

Norwich's Royal Arcade. Pic: Archant

Norwich's Royal Arcade is set for a new three-storey restaurant - to be run free of charge by the mystery winner of a competition.

Arcade owner, the insurance giant Legal & General, has amalgamated three empty units in the centre hit by shop closures, to create a "prime corner restaurant".

And they have given away the space - worth £95,000 a year in rent - free to the winner of their Let's Grow competition, to be announced next week.

Meanwhile, the space formerly occupied by the restaurant Jamie's Italian, at the other end of the arcade in the units 21-24, still stands empty.

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Existing tenant Steve Scott runs Langleys toy store, next door to the new restaurant space, which has been in the arcade since 1925.

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He said he welcomed the move to create the restaurant space.

He is in negotiations with Legal & General over his rent after recently opening a store in Chapelfield.

He said: "I'm not against Legal & General taking steps to fill the empty units. Hopefully we can start and rebuild the arcade."

A spokeswoman for Legal & General confirmed that the space at 15-16 Royal Arcade, arranged over three floors with a ground floor and first floor restaurant and ancillary second floor, was being let to the winner of the competition.

"It would be unfair of us to say who this is yet as the winner doesn't themselves know but we are hoping to be announcing it next week."

The three-storey space is at the Gentleman's Walk end of the arcade, next to Langleys, and was formerly partly occupied by leather goods shop The Tannery. The building goes around a corner in the middle of the arcade, opposite Marmalade's cafe.

Details of the space as marketed by Roche state it is 3,432sq ft and "an amalgamation of three existing units".

High rents in addition to an annual service charge and business rates have left the arcade, which dates to Victorian times, almost half empty. Shops which pulled out include Berry's & Grey interiors, Jamie's Italian and the English Chocolate Company and in September Legal & General launched its 'Let's Grow' competition to try and fill the space.

Businesses were invited to enter online with the retail space offered free "for an agreed period of time" starting in January.