Two restaurants and bars are to be created in Liverpool’s landmark Cunard Building by leading operator Living Ventures after a deal with the city council.
The agreement will see £6million invested on the ground and first floors of the landmark Grade II-listed building on the Pier Head on the waterfront, creating around 150 new jobs.
On the ground floor, Living Ventures will create a second Australasia after the success of the first in Manchester’s Spinningfields. It will serve modern Australian cuisine combining Pacific Rim flavours and European cooking traditions and have a bar with cocktails and DJs.
On the first floor, they will open Cunard House, a restaurant serving fine food in an informal atmosphere alongside a cocktail bar. The team will be led by Aiden Byrne, former head chef of the Grill Room at The Dorchester hotel in London and the youngest chef to ever win a Michelin star. It will also house an academy for young chefs to train under Aiden.
After the signing of the deal between Liverpool City Council – which owns the building – and Living Ventures, mayor Joe Anderson said: “I am delighted that we are able to announce the investment by Living Ventures in Cunard Building. It will breathe new life into the Cunard Building and the wider Pier Head, complementing the recent investment the council has made.
“It will provide a world-class dining experience for residents, tourists and office workers in this part of the city and be a catalyst for further investment in the Pier Head area.
“We know there is a huge demand for dining at the Cunard Building, demonstrated most recently through the success of the Aquitania pop-up restaurant during the Three Queens visit.
“It is also a great economic deal for the city, creating a significant number of jobs and economic spend and will generate business rates and rental income for the city council which we can reinvest in essential services.”
Tim Bacon, co-founder and chief executive of Living Ventures, said: “We are delighted to introduce Australasia and Cunard House to Liverpool. It has always been a city very close to my heart and I am sure people will love these two new dining experiences – each will bring something totally new and dynamic to the Liverpool dining scene.
“Aiden is also very excited to be returning to his home town. Cunard House will be a showcase for the amazing food Aiden produces and the training academy will give him the opportunity to pass on his knowledge and experience to aspiring young chefs who could not ask for a better mentor.”
The deal was organised by John Hyland, director of Astutus Strategy which is supporting Living Ventures. Astutus Strategy chairman Lord Carlile said: “The development is a great opportunity to bring a great building back into the growing Liverpool powerhouse. It promises to be a wonderful restaurant, and a go-to meeting place. The mayor is to be congratulated on his support for this exciting venture.”
Subject to planning approval, Australasia is expected to open in April 2016 and Cunard House in September 2016.
Built between 1914 and 1917, the Cunard Building was once the headquarters and main passenger terminal for the world’s most famous shipping company, the Cunard Steamship Company, until it relocated to Southampton in the 1960s. It was bought by Liverpool City Council in 2014.
The Living Ventures Group also operates one of its 11 Gusto restaurants in Liverpoool and has The Smugglers Cove rum bar in the city’s Albert Dock. It also has eight Blackhouse restaurants, four The Alchemist bars and, through New World Trading Company, The Oast House in Manchester, six The Botanist restaurants, The Trading House in London, and Artisan and Manchester House in Manchester.
Pictured (left to right): Tim Bacon, Joe Anderson, Lord Carlile and John Hyland at the signing.