Champagne corks popping at eatery after funding boost
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A bespoke financial package has helped a Liverpool restaurateur’s latest venture go with a fizz.
Paul Askew, chief patron and founder of exclusive city centre eaterie The Art School, has opened a new champagne and wine bar, The Art School Cellars, in the basement of its Sugnall Street venue.
This has created 11 jobs, and more will follow with the planned opening of a new private dining room.
The opening will also enhance the city’s reputation for fine wine and dining, said Askew.
“There are exciting times in Liverpool,” he said. “We have the new Knowledge Quarter and the Royal College of Physicians on our doorstep.
“My dream has always been to challenge the food offer of the city to match the business development.”
He said his new walk-in wine cellar and tasting room boasts the biggest range in the city, with up to 350 different wines and champagnes which he believes will make The Art School Cellars the perfect pre and post-dinner or concert drinks venue in Liverpool.
The bar offers a collection of cheeses and charcuterie and a private tasting room, seating 10 people and offering a wine and food-matching service, with accompanying sommeliers, for both the private and corporate markets.
“We wanted to create something unique that Liverpool didn’t have,” said Askew. “The inspiration for the new bar came from the Basque Country region and Northern Italy.
“In San Sebastián bars you have beautiful pinchos on the bar that you can match up with a glass of wine.
“We have the warmth and hospitality in Liverpool, but maybe not the matching experience.”
He added: “This is capital city standard.”
Askew worked with Gordon Andrews, managing director at West Kirby financial specialist Bathgate Business Finance to fund the creation of a completely new range of furniture for the bar, alongside local companies Telegraph Furniture and designer Crave ID.
He said: “All the furniture is bespoke. I would describe it as old meets new. Victoriana meets contemporary.
“We are in an 1888 building and we want to keep the characteristics of the Victoriana, but with a slightly more modern look.”
Bathgate arranged a £33,000 loan to fund the furniture and Askew said: “People might look at it and think, ‘that is not very much’. But to an individual restaurant it is quite a lot of money.
“It is all about the management of cash flow.”