AFTER standing empty for almost a year, the first restaurant is poised to open in Kettering’s Market Place Buildings.
Upmarket Italian-themed chain Prezzo is expected to open a restaurant in one of the units, which have been empty since being finished last June, if it is granted a licence to serve alcohol.
Prezzo spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “When we came to Kettering and saw the town and understood the borough council’s vision for the town we were immediately excited by the potential of the area.
“Then we saw the unit that Kettering Council had designed and built, and we knew we had to be here.
“We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with the town.”
The chain, which has a popular restaurant in Northampton, will tomorrow apply for a licence for the larger of the two units, closer to the parish church.
It has a floorspace of 3,500sq ft.
Kettering Council said feedback on the restaurant units has been consistently very positive, with a number of national restaurant chains saying that they liked the buildings and their setting and could see real potential in the town, but there was a real nervousness about the national economy that was affecting their investment decisions.
All 10 of the apartments above were let within two months of going on the market.
The buildings stand on the footprint of the old Market Place buildings demolished in 1908.
Cllr Russell Roberts, leader of Kettering Council, said: “There is no doubting the fact that we took a risk when we decided to reinstate the market place buildings.
“However, we have built something that respects the historic setting of the Market Place and parish church, that has proven itself as somewhere that people want to live and now, to have achieved our dream of attracting a national restaurant chain to Kettering. It’s just incredible.
“In the teeth of a recession, this is great news.”
The borough council hopes a big name like Prezzo will attract another restaurant to the second unit, which has a floorspace of 2,600sq ft over two floors.