Gary Hutchinson and Bob Senior
Fat Buddha Newcastle will be getting a new look and a new menu, as it is taken over by former Sunderland AFC commercial director, Gary Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, who announced last month that he would be leaving his FA role at the end of 2017 to concentrate on a private leisure venture, has taken control of the venue, based at 55 Degrees North.
Under his ownership, Fat Buddha Newcastle will undergo a soft refurbishment, and he will introduce a relaunched food menu.
As well as a new bar inside the restaurant, the relaunch will also see Hutchinson open Nirvana Bar on the lower floor of the venue, a 500-capacity late-night bar that will feature live music and a DJ.
Hutchinson said: "The Fat Buddha has earned a deserved reputation as a brand that is ahead of its time - stylish, sophisticated but relaxed, and somewhere people come to for a quality experience, with great food, drinks and service. I want to build on the fantastic work of Bob and his team, and give the venue a renewed sense of purpose and direction.
"We have a unique venue and a stunning proposition overall at Fat Buddha Newcastle - we believe we can build on that and re-establish it, once again, as a must-visit Tyneside venue.
“We know we have a strong offer as a place for corporate functions and events, so we expect to see the company quickly establish itself, with Christmas fast-approaching, and with a new menu and offer, we hope to attract a new crowd to come and enjoy the venue.”
The takeover of Fat Buddha Newcastle is one of a number of venues Mr Hutchinson has been pursuing. The established business figure has set up a parent company, Chrysalis Leisure, which will run Fat Buddha Newcastle, and hopes to add a number of venues across the North East to the company's portfolio.
Once he has re-established Fat Buddha, he plans to take on consultancy projects across the UK, as another function of the newly incorporated business.
Bob Senior, who founded the restaurant in 2012, said: "It's been five fantastic years since I set up Fat Buddha Newcastle, and I have thoroughly enjoyed opening a venue that became so well-known and loved in the city, but I am ready to hand over to someone I know will take this venue on to the next level with his own thoughts, experience and enthusiasm.
"Gary has a strong reputation in the leisure and hospitality sector, and I am sure the venue is in safe hands under his leadership, particularly as he has invested his own money in the project. I look forward to supporting him as he takes the business forward.”