Blackpool’s Vintro Lounge ‘here to stay’ say bosses despite row over demolition plans

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A town centre restaurant which opened less than a month ago has already found itself at the centre of a remarkable row over its future.

 

Bosses at Vintro Lounge on the corner of Abingdon Street and Church Street were forced to comment publicly ahead of a meeting tonight, where resort councillors will decide if it can be demolished.

A planning bid by Daniel Berko, who wants to flatten the building and replace it with a block of flats, is up for debate at 6pm – with planning officials at the town hall urging the green light to be given.

But a spokesman for Vintro, which took over the former Pizza Express restaurant, insisted yesterday that, even if Berko’s bid is approved, work cannot go ahead.

Vintro Lounge opened last month using the former Pizza Express restaurantVintro Lounge opened last month using the former Pizza Express restaurant

“We have taken a 15-year lease on the building so it certainly cannot be demolished with us in occupation,” he said. “Our landlord submitted their application prior to us entering negotiations.”

He said news of the bid “caused some upset” amongst workers at the eatery, who appeared to be unaware when contacted by The Gazette last week, which was “tempered” by bosses following talks with the landlord.

The spokesman added: “Even if the plans are approved by the planners, they could not be implemented.”

Berko’s original designs – for a seven-storey building – were knocked back for being inappropriate.

But a revised application, for a three to five storey block with 19 flats and shops, a restaurant, and betting shop on the ground floor, could be approved tonight.

The decision will be controversial, however, with the town’s Civic Trust vehemently against the build.

“We submitted comments regarding a previous application for this location and our objections are all still relevant as the proposed site sits within the conservation area and if developed will impose too greatly on the St Johns Square conservation area by the height and density of building,” it said.

“Planning permission should be once again refused as it is totally out with the permitted developments in this location.”

A report put before planners said the redevelopment should be granted permission – as long as £7,720 is paid towards a new GP practice in Adelaide Street.

Papers said: “The scheme would deliver good quality homes in an attraction building in an accessible location.”

Blackpool’s Upside Down vegan cafe gets major revamp after Covid setbacks

Owners Robert and Ryan love coffee, food, plants and dogs

 

Owners Robert Gomm, 36 and Ryan Green, 32 outside the very dog friendly Upside Down coffee shop
Owners Robert Gomm, 36 and Ryan Green, 32 outside the very dog friendly Upside Down coffee shop (Image: Upside Down coffee shop)

A vegan coffee shop that took its name from the Netflix hit show ‘Stranger Things’ has had its shop front re-vamped and is ready to open next week on Wednesday (July 7).

Upside Down on Edward Street in the town centre now has a modern, eye-catching shopfront thanks to a property improvement scheme by Blackpool Council.

Landlord Andy Shields applied for the Quality Corridors Scheme which aims to give some of Blackpool’s key roads a facelift to make streets more welcoming and shops more vibrant.

The much darker old shop front, styled in a similar font to Stranger Things, was replaced with more contemporary green sign fitted at the correct angle which fits in with the ‘Victorian aesthetic’ of the street.

Plant inspired windows at Upside Down
Plant inspired windows at Upside Down (Image: Upside Down)

Building owner Andy said: “A huge thank you to the team at Blackpool Council for organising this brilliant and effective scheme, providing some much-needed rejuvenation for the buildings of our town centre and bringing back a touch of local pride for the businesses within them.

“We couldn’t be happier with our amazing new shop front!”

The establishment, which tagline reads ‘coffee, food, plants’, is finally managing to re-open after several set backs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Owners Robert Gomm, 36 and Ryan Green, 32 decided to open their own place after Rob was hired by Ryan’s mum to work at their family business, Shaw’s Café on Clifton Street.

When Ryan’s mum decided to close the business, the pair wanted to create their own place based on their own tastes, preferences and beliefs.

Getting started proved to be a little difficult however as they originally opened in February 2020 and had to close again a month later due to the first national lockdown.

They then re-opened in July but had to close again in November due to Lancashire being in tier 4 and have remained that way since.

Inside Upside Down coffee shop on Edward Street, Blackpool
Inside Upside Down coffee shop on Edward Street, Blackpool (Image: Upside Down coffee shop)

The friends are now finally excited to get open up again this month and hopefully to remain that way.

Ryan told LancsLive: “We have had quite a bit of disruption and in total we’ve only really been open around five months.

“We’re hoping the government’s date of July 19 will be a return to normal however we worry it’s a little bit of a fallacy.

“Some places that have implemented the Track and Trace system have had to close for ten days at a time and its what kind of support is in in place for if that happens.

“We’re hoping it will be relatively normal now and we’re looking forward to just setting up and establishing ourselves uninterrupted.”

All staff at Upside Down are vegetarian or vegan and customers will not find meat on the menu.

Its offerings are delicious favourites such as toasties made with kimchi instead of cheese and chickpea pancakes with aubergine, courgette and chickpea curry.

The coffee shop prides itself on its specialist coffees, some of which you won’t find elsewhere in Blackpool, with Sey coffee being a personal favourite of the owners.

Not only is the menu plant-based but the café also sells a wonderful variety of plants which also provide a living backdrop to the welcoming surroundings.

One of the plants sales at Upside Down
One of the plants sales at Upside Down (Image: Upside Down)

A polaroid camera can also be found on site as not only is the coffee shop dog friendly but your furry friend can be added to its ‘doggy wall of fame’.

Staff also work to a ‘low-waste’ aspiration which is just one of many beliefs that inform a wider ethos at Upside Down.

Ryan said: “Our name, although we love Stranger Things, and the Diana Ross song, more relates to how we do things.

“There’s not many places in Blackpool that offer vegetarian or vegan options. None of our staff eat meat so we don’t see the point in cooking and serving something we wouldn’t eat ourselves.

“We want people when they come to visit Blackpool to know that there’s a vegetarian and vegan option there for them.

“How we source our coffee and the different ways and effort we put into cooking and preparing our food just make us that little bit different to anywhere else locally.

“I don’t think there’s anywhere else that quite loves plants as much we do too so I do feel we have a very upside down approach to how we do things!”

To find out more about Upside Down café, visit the Facebook page here.