It started life in 1877 as an independent chemist. Now, after eight months and a complete refurbishment of the site, Lake District entrepreneur and Ian Dutton has launched his latest foodie venture: Brown Sugar.
And the new bar and restaurant, situated on an historic site in the heart of Windermere village, has been given the seal of approval by locals and visitors alike after its opening in September.
Having opened 140 years ago as an independent chemist, Boots took it over and remained in the building until 1990. Then, following a significant refurbishment in 2002, the building re-opened as a three-floor restaurant named The Lighthouse.
But in April of this year, Dutton took ownership of the prominent site and has spent more than £1m completely transforming it into one of the Lake District’s most exciting new venues.
Seating more than 80 customers inside, with space for a further 14 on the balcony and 24 on the heated outside terrace, Brown Sugar remains a three-floor bar and restaurant, but with a completely new offering and sparkling new interior.
“It’s taken a gruelling eight months to achieve our vision, but we have accomplished something very special,” says Ian, who, together with wife, Annette, owns The Pig in Windermere and The Village Inn in Bowness.
“We had to peel back the layers of this beautiful building and restore it to its former glory”
This included replacing all the original windows, sand-blasting the wooden beams and removing all the false ceilings. “We have moved the kitchen from the first floor to the basement, moved the loos from the top to the middle floor and undertaken a complete overhaul in keeping with the history and age of the building.”
The ground floor now offers café-style speciality teas and coffees, while the middle floor offers a more upmarket dining experience, with the upper floor, fitted out with sofa’s and its own bar, available for private hire, or a place to relax with a drink prior to dinner. A state-of-the-art sound system is available on all floors.
Dutton, renowned for creating relaxing, comfortable bars and eateries, has designed a warm, modern interior, punctuated with his now-infamous quirky touches. Buckets for urinals, loos sourced from the Queen’s own supplier, German push-handles in the shape of hands, and the dulcet tones of Michael McIntyre’s humour, playing in both the ladies and gents loos, add to the fun that Ian is clearly wanting to generate.
“We love to create something different for our customers and following decades in the industry, know what they want,” he said. “We’ve been delighted with the positive reaction to Brown Sugar so far and look forward to taking our vision forward.
“All of our businesses have evolved over the years; we’re not afraid of change and I believe that’s been the secret to our success.”