By Andy Ffrench and Ben Blackledge

TWO theatres and the Odeon cinema are helping restaurants in George Street to survive, according to a retail leader.

There have been lots of changes in recent months, including the departure of chain restaurant Yo! Sushi and Pint Shop, and the announcement that Glut, an American diner, is to replace Indian restaurant Thali, previously occupied by Giraffe, also a chain.

Changes include:

  • Yo! Sushi - gone
  • Pint Shop - gone
  • Thali - gone
  • Giraffe - gone
  • Glut - opening
  • The Grapes - revamp
  • NatWest - revamp
  • Oxo Bar - open
  • 1-5 George Street to be demolished and replaced

READ AGAIN: Young entrepreneur takes on chain restaurants in George Street

Graham Jones, a spokesman for traders' group ROX - Backing Oxford Businesses - said the rapid turnover of pubs and restaurants was nothing to be too alarmed about.

Oxford Mail:

He added: "When the new Westgate Centre opened in 2017, with all those new restaurants on the rooftop terrace, there was concern it would have a bad effect on places like George Street.

"But the closures that were predicted don't seem to have materialised and it's not too bad if a new business comes in when one closes.

READ AGAIN: Pint Shop pub in Oxford announces sudden closure

"Restaurants in George Street are protected because there's good footfall - they can rely on custom from theatre goers heading to the New Theatre and the Playhouse and people going to the Odeon cinema in George Street.

"I think it's fair to say George Street has never been the most attractive street and it's difficult to see how that could be changed - it's got buses and taxis going up and down it."

Oxford Mail:

The former NatWest building on the corner of George Street and Cornmarket is being marketed by property consultants VSL after the bank moved out and it is understood that upmarket restaurant chains are being targeted.

READ AGAIN: Second NatWest bank could become top restaurant

Mr Jones said the city council had a 'good opportunity' to smarten up part of George Street with a £9.7m revamp.

The city council is currently fine-tuning plans to demolish 1-5 George Street and then build a new complex to increase rent returns and floorspace.

Any new development would contain new offices and restaurants.

Sami Mahfouz, a former Cherwell School pupil, has bought the lease on the former Thali premises and it is now being fitted out as Glut, an American diner.

Oxford Mail:

He said: "We are nearly there with the refit - the murals are going on up the walls of the restaurant and we are aiming to be ready to open on April 1.

"We know there are lots of tourists in Oxford and they will be there at the weekends but we need support from local people so there are people coming in on other days of the week.

"Our prices will be reasonable - some of the chains are charging too much."

READ MORE: Yo! Sushi in George Street set to close as Glut gears up

The pub Pint Shop, which opened in 2016, closed suddenly last month. In 2017 it sold a £12 pint called the Cloudwater NW DIPA.

The premises is owned by the city council and there is a long lease to Nuffield College, which has not yet said which business will replace Pint Shop.

Oxford Mail:

Pint Shop also runs branches in Cambridge and Birmingham.

READ MORE: Microbrewery takes over historic pub The Grapes

Spokeswoman Izzy Hammond said: "I'm afraid we are not going to discuss our specific case - we don't have really have an opinion on the location or what the future plans for that location are.

"For us it was just a simple case of the numbers not adding up at the right time so had to make the tough decision to close."

READ AGAIN: Cocktails replace football on TV at Oxford bar

There are no signs yet that the former Yo! Sushi premises, owned by the council and leased to Nuffield College, is about to get a new pub or restaurant.

Spokeswoman Francesca Tuckett said: "As is normal with a large and established brand, we continually review our estate to make sure we have the best proposition in the right sites.

Oxford Mail:

"After over 10 years in Oxford, it was time to review the lease, and we took the decision to exit the site.”

There is good news at the other end of George Street where West Berkshire Brewery has taken over the lease on The Grapes pub.

Oxford Mail:

Following a revamp the pub, which dates back to the 1820s, is due to reopen next month.

Eurobar in George Street, a football-themed pub, became the Oxo bar in November, serving gin and cocktails.