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Collapsed plans for Miller Arcade restaurant leave competition winner empty-handed

Posted on - 19th September, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Food & Drink, Fulwood, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Restaurants in Preston
Mark O'Rourke outside the Miller Arcade restaurant in March 2022
Mark O’Rourke outside the Miller Arcade restaurant in March 2022

Collapsed plans for a new Preston city centre eatery have left a competition winner empty handed.

The former Olive Tree restaurant in Miller Arcade had been billed to reopen as an English brasserie. Local restaurateur Mark O’Rourke took over the lease in 2021, originally saying the new spot would open by January 2022.

In March that year, with the restaurant still not open, a competition was launched to name the brasserie. The prize was a three-course meal for two, every month, for one year.

Speaking at the time, Mark said: “I wanted to give people a chance to get involved in naming the restaurant because it’s in a much-admired, historic building, and it deserves a name that means something to the people of Lancashire.”

A couple of months later the winning moniker was announced as Bath House Bistro, which was thought up by Luke Unsworth.

Read more: New Miller Arcade restaurant name is confirmed

Luke, from Fulwood, was contacted by a representative of Mark to confirm he had won, but then received no further updates.

Text confirming Luke had won the restaurant naming competition
Luke was told he’d won the competition in May 2022
Texts between Luke and Mark's representative where Luke asks for an update
Luke didn’t receive any replies after the original contact

Speaking to Blog Preston, Luke said: “I was only contacted once by someone to say I’d won and never heard again. I’ve reached out to the number that contacted me and got told a press release was due out soon, but never got a reply or answer after that.”

Luke added: “It was nice to win as I’d never won anything before. The prize would have been fantastic but it’s more of a shame that local business owners are struggling in the current climate. The restaurant would have been a nice addition to Preston but instead it remains just another vacant shop window.”

When asked about the lack of contact and prize by Blog Preston, Mark said: “Unfortunately the restaurant wasn’t able to open as it wasn’t the right economic climate to open a new venture.

“As the prize was a meal at the restaurant and it didn’t open, there wasn’t a prize to give unfortunately.”

This latest news about the planned eatery follows a number of changes to Mark’s portfolio.

Mark sold the majority of We Don’t Give A Fork, which he launched in 2017, in August 2019. The Guildhall Street burger joint closed suddenly in March this year.

The Lytham branch of Fino Tapas closed after 12 months of trading in August last year, and Mexican restaurant La Neta shut in May, with the closures blamed on difficulties in the hospitality industry.

In November 2022, Mark’s team took over management of Plau in Friargate, with plans to launch a new gastropub menu at the bistro on the upper floors.

Seven months later, in June, the Preston branch of Fino relocated from Guildhall Street to the second floor of Plau.

But the original managers – Jeremy and Rebecca Rowlands – were back in charge at Plau within a further matter of weeks. As part of that deal, the pair also assumed management of the Fino Tapas brand, although not the company that owned Fino and its obligations.

Mark also founded 263 in Winckley Square, which continues to operate under Chef Director Oli Martin. He opened Otter’s Pocket, now Winckley Street Ale House, in 2018.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

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