A major refurbishment is set to begin at the Colonnade in Bexhill as Rother District Council prepare to open a new cafe restaurant on the site.
Rother District Council is in the process of appointing contractors who will soon begin a major refurbishment of the Colonnade, and says it hopes to open the facility in time for the start of the school summer holidays.
The Colonnade has been vacant since the end of October, when the lease of its previous occupant - popular cafe Tea Beside the Sea - expired.
The council chose not to renew the cafe's lease after a cabinet decision to put a long-term lease out to bidders. At the time, the council was criticised for the move by Tea Beside the Sea owner Janet Van of Den Busshce, who said she was not given enough time to wind up her business.
In January, after the prospective new tenant for the Colonnade pulled out, the council’s cabinet agreed instead to run the facility in-house.
A Rother spokesman said: "The council has appointed a business and catering manager for the licensed eatery, which will offer light snacks, main meals, ice creams, alcoholic drinks and afternoon tea seven days a week.
"The cafe-restaurant will be able to accommodate around 50 diners inside and 100 on its outside terrace, which offers panoramic sea views.
"Meanwhile, the western half of the building will be divided into four retail units, creating an additional attraction in a key seafront location."
According to Rother District Council, the new eatery will open seven days a week in summer and five days a week out of season. It will also host entertainment such as live music and quiz nights.
Cllr Sally-Ann Hart, district council cabinet member for public realm, culture and tourism, said: “The Colonnade is a stunning building in a stunning setting, right on the seafront and directly in front of the De La Warr Pavilion.
“The work we’ll be starting soon will completely transform the interior of the building, creating a modern, vibrant and attractive space for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.
“The location benefits from very high footfall in the summer and we hope the new cafe-restaurant will be able to capitalise on this passing trade – and act as a visitor destination in its own right.
“This investment in an iconic seafront building is a sign of the real confidence we have in Bexhill as a visitor destination.”
A confirmed opening date for the Colonnade will be announced in due course, the council says.