Ely based company expands into Norfolk as work starts on 150 seat restaurant as part of £8 million riverside complex at Thetford

American bar and grill Grand Central is the first restaurant to announce its tenancy at the Riversid

American bar and grill Grand Central is the first restaurant to announce its tenancy at the Riverside development in Thetford. Pictured: company founders Jo and Steve Haslam (far left and far right) with Breckland Council chairman Bill Borrett and Phil Cowen, Breckland executive member for growth and commercialisation. - Credit: Photo: Keith Mindham Photography

An Ely based company, Grand Central, is the first eatery to announce it will be moving into the £8 million riverside development in Thetford – with hopes the 150-seat restaurant will be open by the start of 2017.

It will be a first foray into Norfolk for TLC Inns, which owns the chain’s five restaurants.

Founders Steve and Jo Haslam, who opened their first pub in Ely ten years ago, said they wanted to be part of Thetford’s regeneration.

Mr Haslam said: “I have been looking for several months at what is going on here. It pulled me in in the end - it was different from other sites, with the passion that the council show for it as the ‘new way forward for Thetford’.

“We wanted to be a part of that and we hope the people of Thetford will buy into it.

“Hopefully we will be open in time to throw a New Year’s Eve party – it depends on a lot of factors.”

Mr Haslam said Grand Central was both a “hip” and “family-oriented” restaurant.

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“The guest experience is very important to us – it is about the whole package, what we can give people that they cannot get elsewhere.”

At least 30 jobs expected to be created at Grand Central, with recruitment due to start at the end of November.

Work to fit out the new restaurant – the largest in the riverside development – was due to start on Monday. It is expected to take 12 weeks and will be completed by the Haslams’ own fit-out team, with an “urban chic” design with reclaimed materials and graffiti art.

The restaurant will be open from 8am daily for breakfast, with lunch service including a weekday menu offer, and a full evening dinner menu. There will also be a separate bar area.

After a complete overhaul by a London food director the menu reads as a dream for carnivores – with steaks, burgers, ribs and lobster.

Breckland Council chairman Bill Borrett said: “I am very excited to see the transformation of Thetford Riverside, a great regeneration project, and I am very proud of what Breckland Council has achieved here.

“I am really pleased that TLC have chosen to locate their next Grand Central restaurant and bar in the development. I think it is a great boost for Thetford. They are an expanding company and I can’t wait to see it open so we can all come along and enjoy it.”