Raising a glass to town revitalisation

Gary Harding at the new Tanner Smiths pub in South Parade, Whitley Bay.
Gary Harding at the new Tanner Smiths pub in South Parade, Whitley Bay.
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Two friends are helping to revitalise Whitley Bay’s evening economy after opening their third pub in the town.

Over recent years, pubs and clubs in South Parade have closed down and stood empty.

Gary Harding inside the new Tanner Smiths pub.

Gary Harding inside the new Tanner Smiths pub.

But now, the town is on the crest of a wave with new restaurants – including Hinnies and Turknaz – opening, established restaurants in Whitley Road undergoing refurbishments and new pubs opening, helping bring people back to the town.

Gary Harding and Gavin Hattrick took on 42nd Street, on the seafront, three-and-a-half years ago and after a tricky first year, they have now opened their third pub and their own brewery.

After re-opening the King George pub, which adjoins 42nd Street, they have now opened Tanners Smiths in South Parade.

The new bar takes its inspiration from 1920s New York and the prohibition period with the main emphasis being on a tapas food menu, supported by gins, cocktails and their own beer.

Gary Harding at Whitley Bay Brewery, which he has set up alongside business partner Gavin Hattrick.

Gary Harding at Whitley Bay Brewery, which he has set up alongside business partner Gavin Hattrick.

Gary said: “The days of stag and hen parties have gone. We just want a Whitley Bay for Whitley Bay.

“The restaurants and pubs work well together, we regularly have people coming to us from Turknaz and vice versa.

“We sort of stumbled into running Tanners Smith. The owner of the hotel above it offered it to us.

“We’ve had a good reaction so far. The tapas food is going down well.”

42nd Street and the King Geoge pub on the Promenade at Whitley Bay.

42nd Street and the King Geoge pub on the Promenade at Whitley Bay.

He added: “We never thought we would last this long when we opened 42nd Street. Everyone thought we would last two weeks, maybe two months tops.

“We didn’t think the two of us would last. We just went for it.

“It was a bit of fun for the first year but it’s now all real.”

And taking the same approach, the pair have set up Whitley Bay Brewing Company, producing three beers – Spanish City Blonde, A Dog Called Mouse and Slow Joe.

As well as their own pubs, the pair have secured custom with establishments in Whitley Bay, Tynemouth, Newcastle and Gosforth.

Gary believes the good times are coming back to Whitley Bay, especially with the regeneration of the seafront beginning to take shape.

He said: “People like Whitley Bay. They want it to be successful. People want to eat and drink in Whitley Bay.

“The locals are starting to get behind the places and starting to use the outlets.”

“Some people used to think Whitley Bay is run down and you can’t eat or drink here but there are a lot of places to see and go.

“For us, we want to see some regeneration. That will bring a lot more people back to Whitley Bay. We want to stay in Whitley Bay rather than go elsewhere.

“The night time economy is slowly on its way back up. It’s much better than it is. All the locals come down and have a great time.

“Crime figures are massively down. There is a good relationship between the police and outlets.”

King George is open from noon every day, 42nd Street is open Thursday and Friday from 4pm, Saturday and Sunday all day, and Tanner Smiths is open from 4pm every day.