Published: 15:32, 28 March 2021
| Updated: 09:22, 29 March 2021
Whitstable is set to welcome a new Turkish restaurant later this year as the town centre’s former Jobcentre building is given a new lease of life.
Popular Kent-run firm A La Turka is expected to have its bid to transform the High Street site into an eatery approved by Canterbury City Council next week.
Owner Mehmet Dari - who runs two restaurants in Canterbury, one in Herne Bay and another in Ramsgate - revealed plans to open a fifth outlet almost a year ago.
The pandemic has slowed down the planning process, but now, Mr Dari’s vision is set to be given the go-ahead.
The plans have attracted a number of objections from residents concerned about increased noise, loss of privacy and an over-saturation of restaurants in the town.
But planning officers are confident the new business will not adversely affect the town centre - and are recommending councillors approve the project at a meeting on Tuesday.
Mr Dari says if all goes as planned, the restaurant will open later this year.
He is confident his business fits in with the Whitstable scene, which heavily focuses on local firms rather than big-name chains.
“It’s very exciting - we’ve been waiting a long time,” he said.
“It’s going to take a few months to sort as it is quite a big project. There will be a big garden at the back.
“A lot of people are excited for it to open. We’re a local brand, not some huge chain only interested in money.
“We’ve got a really good customer base in Kent. We care about our customers and look after them with good food and service as well as helping the community. Whatever we can do for the area, we always try our best.
“People are looking forward to eating out again, and then on top of that they can try a new restaurant - so they can be twice as excited.
Once operating, A La Turka will open from 10am every day and close at midnight Monday to Thursday, and 1am from Friday to Sunday.
There will be new decking in the rear courtyard with an outside seating area and retractable roof terrace awning.
The Jobcentre closed in October 2017 after the Department for Work and Pensions announced plans to save money, and the building has been empty ever since.