Published: 11:10, 31 October 2021
| Updated: 08:37, 01 November 2021
A town business tycoon is set to launch a new fish restaurant in a long-vacant seafront building.
Mehmet Dari, owner of the A La Turka restaurants, is breathing new life into the former Le Petit Poisson site on Herne Bay promenade - which he is reopening as The Cookhouse.
The restaurateur is spending about £150,000 renovating the single-storey premises - where he hopes to build a rooftop terrace in future.
It will be the 41-year-old’s fifth business in the town.
Mr Dari already owns four A La Turka restaurants including one in Herne Bay, with a fifth set to launch in Whitstable.
He also runs Herne Bay’s The Grapevine wine and meze bar, Sunset Fish Bar, and is building a seafront hotel in the town.
Mr Dari says he had his eye on the Le Petit Poisson site for some time, before snapping it up a couple of months ago.
“I’m excited - like I’m opening my first restaurant,” he said.
“It was on-and-off closed, open, and it’s almost closed one year now. It’s a beautiful place. I’ve been watching this place for more than 10 years.”
Le Petit Poisson formerly had huge success as a fish restaurant - becoming Herne Bay’s first restaurant to earn a place in the Michelin Guide, in 2011.
Mr Dari says seafood will be the main fare at The Cookhouse.
“There will also be steak, and a bar with wine and cocktails, but mainly it will be a fish restaurant,” he said.
He says he will aim to source produce from local fisheries where possible, and that he hopes to keep prices reasonable.
“We’ve got to look after the local people so we don’t want to go crazy on the prices, and obviously we also don’t want to be too cheap,” he said.
Mr Dari, who lives in Herne Bay, says he is pleased to be reviving a prominent building.
“It’s not only about money, it’s also about caring for the area, looking after the area,” he said.
He says it will cost between £100,000 and £150,000 to refurbish the premises.
“It’s not only about money, it’s also about caring for the area, looking after the area...”
“We’ve already done all the painting and the shopfront,” he said.
“We’ve got to build up a bar, build up the kitchen - we’ve got rid of everything.”
The Cookhouse will cater for between 80 and 100 guests, and will employ about 20 people.
Mr Dari also plans to apply for permission to build a rooftop seating area, from which diners can enjoy sea views.
He hopes The Cookhouse will be open by the spring.