Car park to stem losses on shut bar
PICTURE: DAVID LOWNDES A WELL-KNOWN businessman says the financial squeeze has forced him to create a public car park in the grounds of an historic Peterborough restaurant.
Rinaldo Fasulo shut the iconic Sessions House bar and restaurant, in Thorpe Road, earlier this year after revealing plans to refurbish the building, which has a grade two listed frontage.
It closure comes 10 years after Mr Fasulo bought the 172-year-old building, which served as a jail in the 19th century, a police station and a magistrates’ court.
Mr Fasulo, who also owns the currently closed Broadway theatre, in Peterborough, has said he plans to invest £250,000 to refurbish the Sessions House.
But now he has revealed that delays to the sale of the former Peterborough District Hospital site, which is nearby, will put back the reopening of Sessions House.
To ensure the site has some form of income he is using the private car park as a public paying car park.
Motorists are charged £5 for a stay of up to 12 hours. Prices for less than that start at 90p for an hour.
He said: “I’m just waiting to see what’s happening with the former hospital site.
“I am waiting to see what is built on the hospital site and then I can decide on the type of service that Sessions House needs to provide.
“I may need to change the menu and someone might open up another restaurant.
“I’m not making any money on the pay and display car park. It will just go towards the maintenance of the building.
“Everybody is struggling at the moment. The Euro-zone financial crisis is really hurting everyone and making it difficult for developers to get money.”
Mr Fasulo bought Sessions House in 2002, adding to his restaurant and night club empire in the city.
The closure of Peterborough District Hospital at the end of 2010 badly hit takings, reducing Sessions House profits by at least 30 per cent.
But Mr Fasulo remains confident that the redevelopment of the 25 acre site will provide a boost for the coffers and will be a potential goldmine.
Steve Bowyer, head of economic development, said it was disappointing Mr Fasulo had closed Sessions House but understood the decision behind it.
He added: “Whilst Peterborough is not immune from the economic downturn we have been fairly resilient and actually shown growth.
“If would be great if the Sessions House was open but you have to respect the decision. Mr Fasulo has to make a living. With any of the development sites coming forward it will be a massive boost for everyone.”
Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which owns the old PDH, said it will have chosen a preferred developer by the end of June.
parking: Rinaldo Fasulo has opened Sessions House as a car park while the venue is closed.