Historic Cromer pub reopens as Italian restaurant

A new Italian restaurant with a grandstand view of part of north Norfolk's 'Riviera' has opened after a �200,000-plus revamp of a Cromer seafront pub.

The former Dolphin overlooking the resort's pier, has resurfaced as Bella Vista, a modern bar, bistro and restaurant run by a team which has also transformed another of the town's hotels.

Directors Callum Stuart, Jo Alger, Richard Millar and Carol Prior have put their stamp on the Red Lion through major refurbishments over the past two years, but then saw the Dolphin was on the market and spotted the potential.

'We always said that if we were successful we would not stop at one business,' explained Mr Stuart.

'When I walked in to the old Dolphin the views were stunning, and there was a gap in the market in Cromer for an Italian offering something a bit different.'


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Four months of work saw the building gutted and refitted, with a bar area in the front - where people can have pastries, snacks, wine, beers and coffee - and a restaurant for 75 more formal places behind, offering glimpses of the chefs in the kitchen.

The food was 'American-Italian' pasta, pizza and salads, with some British options, and a children's menu, said Mr Stuart.

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The venture, which is creating at least 12 jobs doubling in the height of summer, was geared to catering for the local trade as well as holidaymakers.

'Anybody who runs a business in a place like Cromer and ignores the local trade won't do as well as they should. We survive on our locals,' he explained.

'We could open for six months in the summer, charge the earth and shut the rest of the year, but what happens with rent that still needs to be paid, and the jobs?,' added Mr Stuart.

The building, which has been the West Cliff Hotel, Regency, and Crabs nightclub over the years, dates from around 1800.

Refurbishment work has exposed riveted steel beams which have been incorporated into the design. Interior decor includes photographs by award-winning Cromer lensman David Morris which capture 'bar life' from around the world.

The outside of the building is temporarily shrouded in scaffolding while it is repainted from grey to magnolia over the next six weeks.

With several other businesses also undergoing refreshes at the moment, it was all helping to boost the look of Cromer as a vibrant town, said Mr Stuart.

Mr Millar told the launch event that a resurgent Cromer, which was awaiting �1m revamp of its pier structure and another �6m worth of improvements to its sea defences, was well-placed as more people stayed in the UK for their holidays.

Contact Bella Vista on 01263 511559 or visit www.bellavista-cromer.co.uk

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