Restaurant owner vows: We'll rise from the ashes

BUSINESSMAN Kevin Chan watched in desperation as his "livelihood' went up in flames in a major city centre blaze.

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Owner Kevin Chan and operations manager Colin Batesman are vowing to get Sauchiehall Street restaurant Steak and Cherry up and running again. Above and top right, the scene of the blaze in 2011 and how the restaurant looks today
Owner Kevin Chan and operations manager Colin Batesman are vowing to get Sauchiehall Street restaurant Steak and Cherry up and running again. Above and top right, the scene of the blaze in 2011 and how the restaurant looks today

But his popular late night eatery, Steak and Cherry, is set to rise from the ashes when it opens across the road from the blaze site in Sauchiehall Street.

Kevin, 45, had spent years planning and opening up the restaurant before a fire destroyed it in February 2011.

It took firefighters more than 12 hours to get the inferno under control as it ripped through the bistro, as well as the Loon Fung restaurant, which has since reopened.

Kevin said: "It was near Chinese New Year at that time so I was celebrating.

"I phoned the restaurant and asked if everything was OK and they said it was fine.

"But I wasn't far away and I saw all the smoke and fire engines. I didn't click it was the Steak and Cherry but I went down and then I realised.

"My first thought was: 'They can salvage it, it's just smoke.'

"But later on it was starting to fume up and the whole roof collapsed. I realised it was all too late."

Kevin said the eatery, which specialised in feeding late night clubbers, was his "livelihood".

It was previously known as Sleepless on Sauchiehall and had been serving people for 15 years.

He said: "I was just thinking: 'What's next here?'

"Everything was in there.That was the year I was planning to open a second unit in Glasgow and then possibly Edinburgh."

More than 3000 fans had signed up to an internet campaign to get the Steak and Cherry up and running again just hours after the blaze.

That, Kevin says, gave him hope and confidence. He has been trying to work out ways to reopen his venue for the past few years.

He said: "I didn't realise I had so many fans. I realised it was an institution to a lot of people. I thought I needed to open it again."

Despite feeling positive, Kevin is still struggling to deal with insurers after the blaze.

He said: "It was very difficult. We're still fighting with insurance and in the process of dealing with that.

"But I'm not letting that get to me, I need to carry on regardless."

Now he will launch the new Steak and Cherry across the road, next to the Genting Casino.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been ploughed into the building to transform it from the Big Apple arcade into a restaurant that has nearly 200 covers.

They hope to open it in the coming weeks although no date has been set.

This time around it will be open for families during the day, as well as after-dark revellers.

Operations manager Colin Batesman said: "It will be very family-focused during the day.

"We'll be working very closely with local businesses and the theatre to put on deals.

"So there's going to be the two sides - the family and the diners in the day, and then the clubbers."

The pair hope they can "bring the spark" back to Sauchiehall Street, which has seen several closures and reduced footfall in recent years.

Kevin said: "I want to bring life back to Sauchiehall Street. I know a few businesses have gone, although some have come back."

After watching neighbouring Glasgow School of Art go up in flames, bosses will also look at ways of raising cash for the art school blaze fund.

Colin said: "We were talking about our plans in the iCafe when we saw smoke coming from the art school.

"We couldn't believe it."

Kevin added: "We wanted to give something back so we'll be looking at ways

"It happened to the Steak and Cherry, and I know how hard it is."

rachel.loxton@eveningtimes.co.uk

Fire

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