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Former nightclub could be daytime family restaurant
THE site of former Witney nightclub iZi is set to become part of a rapidly expanding café and restaurant chain.
The company behind the Lounge outlets has applied for a new premises licence with a view to gain planning consent and open at the Market Square site by next summer.
But managing director of parent company Loungers Alex Reilley has made it clear that the operation will not be a nightclub with the licence application stating that it will not open after midnight.
Mr Reilley said: “I have been very impressed with Witney town centre. It has a real buzz about it and we are keen to be part of it.
“There will be a forthcoming planning application to renovate the front of the building as it will be very much for daytime use and family orientated.
“We would like to be in by spring or summer time.”
Up to 30 jobs could be created at the site with Mr Reilley saying that £500,000 has been set aside to renovate the building.
iZi closed down in September amid complaints of increasing competition and soaring rates.
Director Shaun Hartless said the rates on the premises had doubled to £129,000 a year while the opening of a new JD Wetherspoon pub had hit trade.
Mr Reilley co-founded Loungers in Bristol in 2002 with friends David Reid, development director, and Jake Bishop, operations director. Despite the double dip recession, it has grown fast and now has 41 restaurants including an outlet in Banbury which opened in 2010. A further 15 are set to open in 2014.
Annual turnover has soared from £4m in 2008 to £22m in the last financial year.
Mr Reilley said he was “desperate” to get into Oxford and was currently looking at four sites in and around the city.
He said: “It is somewhere we feel we could do very well. But it is a difficult place to get into as there is a lot of demand for units.”
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