A doting son has re-opened his revamped wine bar in memory of his dad who died 18 months ago.
In January 2013, Gavin Bowmaker bought the building next to Allard’s Lounge, in Front Street, Tynemouth, with the intention of extending his business.
But just weeks later his father Len fell ill with bowel cancer.
Along with his business partner and fiancee Ashley Hall, Gavin supported his dad, who was still a regular fixture at Allard’s until his conditioned worsened three weeks before his death in June last year.
Last Wednesday, nearly three years after buying the premises, Gavin opened his new look business, featuring mementoes of his father, who owned Monkseaton Carpet Centre and Homestyle Carpets.
Gavin, 33, from Monkseaton, said: “It was such a hard time. I couldn’t focus my mind on anything else.
“Even when he was ill, he would be down here by 7am tidying up, checking the bins were sorted out and that everything was in the right place. He kept us all on our toes.”
He added: “I had his name and the years he lived engraved on a stone outside so there is always a piece of him here. We wanted him to be remembered and now people coming in to Allard’s will see his name and hopefully will remember him.
“Now we have a butterfly on the wall and that’s for him too. Dad’s ashes are in an urn with butterflies all over it, and if my mum sees a butterfly she says it’s the spirit of dad.
“Now we have the butterfly on the wall we know he’ll always be looking over us.”
“We couldn’t have got to where we are today without him.”
Many of the memorials will be within the new dining area of the wine bar.
The ‘old’ Allard’s building, which will continue to be dog-friendly, will focus on serving tea, coffee and cake during the day, and drinks in the evening.
Gavin and Ashley, who is from North Shields, are looking forward to welcoming many more customers – their capacity has more than doubled from 48 to 100, with 30 seats outside – and want to hire out the new area for parties and corporate functions.
Gavin added: “With this new space comes loads of new possibilities for us. We are so excited about the future.
“One of the big things for us is being able to take reservations for the first time. Plus we want to get a wider range of customers in, like businesses who could use the space for meetings and networking events.”
After buying the former Threshers shop space on Front Street in 2010, Gavin and Ashley decided on the name ‘Allard’s’ after looking into the history of the building.
In 1877, the Allard’s shop space was ‘The Stores’ grocer’s shop owned by John Wilson and Stephen Lawrence Allard.
Gavin said: “When we were looking into the history of the building we thought ‘Allard’s’ had a nice ring to it. We wanted to keep the history of the place tied in with what we were doing.
“We found loads of old artefacts – things like pictures and adverts – and put them on the walls too.
“There is so much history here – we even have history teachers bringing school kids round as there used to be a cock-fighting pit in the gents’ toilets!
“We are very lucky to have our business in a building with such an amazing past. Hopefully we can give it a suitably successful future and leave a lasting legacy to my dad.”