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A La Turka owner Mehmet Dari's vision for 'champagne tearoom' in Westgate Gardens in Canterbury

A restaurant tycoon has added a tiny riverside cottage bordering a park to his growing empire – as he hopes to transform it into an upmarket tearoom serving champagne.

Mehmet Dari has snapped up the property in St Peter’s Place, Canterbury, after it went under the hammer with a guide price of £100,000 towards the end of last year.

Ivy Cottage in Canterbury
Ivy Cottage in Canterbury

The 42-year-old has revealed he bought the building, located next to the picturesque Westgate Gardens, in the hope of being able to serve afternoon teas from the site.

Believing the building is too pokey to house diners, Mr Dari, who runs popular Turkish chain A La Turka, instead wants to seat them outside beside the Great Stour.

“It’s a nice area, and this will bring it something different,” he explained.

“We want to extend the building and make it a champagne tearoom.

“I was always thinking it would be nice to have something by the river – it would have a relaxing atmosphere.

Mehmet Dari outside A La Turka in Herne Bay
Mehmet Dari outside A La Turka in Herne Bay

“If you want to have a walk or chill out in Westgate Gardens, there’s nothing really fancy there.”

In addition to tables and chairs, Mr Dari also wants to erect glass orbs – akin to those outside his Herne Bay branch of A La Turka – outside the planned eatery.

But if he fails to secure the go-ahead for the project, he will turn his attentions to converting the building, called Ivy Cottage, into a two-bed holiday let instead.

Mr Dari thinks it could fetch as much as £1,200 per week on Airbnb.

“And if we don’t get permission for that, we can try to extend it and turn it into a little house,” he continued.

A La Turka owner Mehmet Dari and the glass orbs at his Herne Bay restaurant
A La Turka owner Mehmet Dari and the glass orbs at his Herne Bay restaurant

“There’s three options there.”

The detached flint and brick building – containing one ground-level room and a ceiling hatch to reach the first floor – used to be owned by Canterbury City Council, which used it as a store.

Deemed surplus to requirements, the authority decided to put it under the hammer last year.

Speaking ahead of its sale in December, auctioneer Kevin Gilbert said it could be turned into a cosy home or even a small cafe, subject to renewed planning permission for change of use and extension.

That was last granted by the city council in 2015, but has since expired.

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