IT had been 10 months since I last set foot in the former Robins Cinema, so I had been itching to go back and see how its transformation into a restaurant and nightclub was progressing.
The plan is to restore the Grade II-listed building to its former 1935 glory and, bearing in mind the cinema was home to hundreds of pigeons for more than a decade before it was rescued by the Sandhu brothers, it has been a challenge.
Yesterday, I walked into the building in Guild Street, Burton, into what will be the world buffet restaurant, to be named The Ritz Hollywood Bar, in an historic nod to The Ritz – the building’s original name.
Ten months ago the restaurant was just a large room downstairs, filled with power tools and dust. Now, we are standing on elegant marble flooring surrounded by Hollywood movie stars painted on the walls.
For the first time you can now see the layout of the restaurant, its buffet area and the carpeting for the guests.
Already it is a far cry from the 1980s decor of Robins, and the echoes of families running up the staircases to the screens.
As you head upstairs, the cinema screens have been taken out and the area turned back into the original room – set to cater for up to 850 wedding guests and the nightclub.
The brothers already have three wedding bookings this summer, which gives an indication of how popular the venue is expected to be.
Not much has been done to this area since my last visit but, due to its age, Paul Sandhu pointed out: “There is not much we can do to it.”
The brothers have restored the original red paintwork in the nightclub area of the building, along with the original details of the former opera house which once stood proudly in place.
Candelabras are now hanging from the ceiling and a stage has been built to house a DJ.
The cocktail bar on the top floor boasts a similar historic feeling – without the pigeons.
The grand opening date was originally scheduled to be in October last year, but various problems to do with listed building applications proved a stumbling block. The restaurant is now expected to open in May, and the nightclub later this year.
Paul said: “I am nervous and excited for the opening.
“I remember the first film I saw here was Superman in 1978. I never thought I’d be back, working on the building.”