Sunniside – the go-to place for a good night out

13 August 2018

By day it’s the professional hub of the city centre, home to estate agents,law firms and other businesses. 

But by night, Sunniside has become the cool place to visit, whether you’re seeking a posh cocktail, a quiet glass or two of wine, a big night out with friends or even a romantic dinner.

Known as Sunderland’s originalbusinesscentre,Sunniside rose to prominence during the Victorian era as the home of the city’s banks, mercantile insurance professionals and foreign consulates.

But left to decay as the 1980s brought a downturn in business, it was given a new lease of life when it was earmarked for urban regeneration in 2003.

Three years later work began on the restoration of Sunniside Gardens, which put the area on the road to recovery. By 2008 new bars and cafes had started to open, and the city’s newest leisure hub was born.

Now it has become the go to place for revellers of all ages looking for a good night out,as more and more new bars and restaurants pop up. 

The most recent of these is 808 Bar at St Thomas Street, which opened its doors on Saturday night with an exciting launch party featuring live music, food and drinks.

But 808 Bar’s arrival is just the most recent to the everchanging face of Sunniside.

Last month The Church Door set up home at West Sunniside in the stunning former Backhouse & Co Bank building, which dates back to 870.

Described as ‘cool and cosy’, The Church Door features high ceilings and original features such as beams and stone walls which make it unique to the city, and it’s already become a hit with discerning drinkers looking for somewhere different.

Last month also brought new life to the former Thai Manor building at Foyle Street as The Manor Bar opened for business.

The bar may be new but the location certainly isn’t for owner Andy Griffiths and his business partner and son Michael, who manages the new premises.

Andy and the team have had a presence in Sunniside for more than 25 years as owners of Sloanes Sports Bar, and now Michael is at the helm of the new venture

“The Manor House is a beautiful historic building set in the heart of Sunniside Gardens and we had been looking at this building for some time with a view to bringing it back to life,” said Michael.

“It has been empty for four years and we have fully updated and refurbished the building, returning part back to residential and the ground floor as a bar and kitchen. “The second phase will be a function suite to the first floor.

“Having had a family business in the area for 25 years with Sloanes, it has been great to see the area regenerated and transformed during this time and hopefully this new venture will compliment what the Sunnisidearea has to offer.

With existing and new businesses continuing to invest in the area, Sunniside is continuing to grow and becoming a great destination venue for Sunderland.” 

Revellers can enjoy numerous other bars across Sunniside including Gin & Bear it at High Street West, Libby May’s Speakeasy Bar and Cocktail Lounge which opened at St Thomas Street last year, Sam’s Bar – a basement hideaway featuring regular soul, funk and disco nights – and Bar Justice, a regular haunt for cocktail fans.

Sunniside is also home to an exciting selection of restaurants, cafes and café bars serving cuisines from all over the world. 

These include El Nido Mexicano at Frederick Street, D’acqua which serves European dishes, and Olive Affaire specialising in Greek cuisine, both in John Street and High Street West’s Egyptian eatery, Arabesque.

The Looking Glass Café Bistro is a recent addition to Athenaeum Street,while Angelo’s, one of the first businesses to arrive after the refurbishment in 2006, has become one of the most popular Italian restaurants in the city.

Sharon Appleby, head of business operations at Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID), believes the area has become a huge asset to the city.

“It’s a very exciting time for the Sunniside area as it continues to grow,” she said. “We are welcoming new arrivals all of the time and the area is really beginning to flourish.

“It hasbecomean integral part of our city centre and as more and more bars and restaurants arrive, as do more and more visitors and customers. 

“It has become the heart of the city’s leisure quarter and as it continues to thrive, will bring more and more benefits to Sunderland.”