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Here’s what the new owner has planned for The Vines on Lime Street – and when it will reopen

1 year ago

Here’s what the new owner has planned for The Vines on Lime Street – and when it will reopen

The new owner of one of Liverpool’s most historic city centre pubs says he intends to restore and bring it back to its Victorian glory days.

Rob Gutmann says The Vines on Lime Street, known as the Big House, is an important landmark that deserves to be treasured.

“I love historic old pubs and this is a real gem, not just for the city but in a national sense,” he explains. “I want to see it come as close to looking and feeling as it did in its Victorian/early Edwardian heyday, 1907 onwards, as possible.”

The Vines
Original fireplace in The Vines

Rob got the keys for the pub a week ago and immediately closed it to start work on the renovation.

He already owns lots of other venues across the city, including several in south Liverpool, but this is a project which he’s been wanting to do for well over a decade.

“I’ve had my eye on it for a while and actually had a deal in place to acquire it as far back as about 2007 but then that didn’t develop and I was sad about that at the time because I’d always loved the building.

“It came on the market in the last year, initially the asking price was prohibitive but then it came down and eventually it hit a level where I thought I’d kick myself forever if I didn’t make an offer for it.

“Good sites in hospitality are few and far between and sometimes they’re only available at certain moments and that’s when you think ‘I’ve got to move, I’ve got to find a way to make this happen’.”

The Vines
Original wood carving in The Vines

Rob says the original beauty of The Vines makes it unlike any other venue he’s ever taken on.

“With my last two projects – The Red Lion on Slater Street which I did last year, and The Green Man on Lark Lane – I’ve taken buildings that weren’t old pubs and made them look like one. I’ve added layers of antiquity to give them character and make them feel as though they’ve been there for 100 years, but The Vines reeks of character already so it’s more about revealing that. 

“The decorative fabric of the building was sensational, it’s why I wanted it. It’s the same architect who did the Phil, and period features like timber panelling and incredible decorative mouldings on the ceiling are still very much there but over the last few decades they’ve been covered over with big telly screens, air con units, or blackboards and posters advertising nights, so its beauty was being increasingly hidden.

“My job has as much been taking out the adornments and stripping it back to what’s underneath, its Victorian decoration, as anything else.”

Timber paneling and decorative mouldings inside The Vines

Very few cities outside London have proper Victorian pubs or gin palaces, but Rob hopes to add an extra one next to Liverpool’s name on that list.

“If you were telling visitors to come to the city and see one of our great Victorian pubs then you’d go to the Phil and that’s it. The rest are brilliant quirky tucked away pubs and even then there aren’t that many.”

Rob aims to have The Vines back open again and back to its best by the end of March.

As for Lime Street, with the recent opening of the Radisson RED hotel in the grade II listed former North Western Hall, and the upgrade of the station, he’s optimistic about its future.

“It is a challenging location,” he admits. “I think much hospitality investment has taken place in other parts of the city like the Baltic, around Seel Street and the Georgian Quarter, and not as much has gone into this part in recent years. 

Inside The Vines during renovation

“But it’s also quietly a brilliant location – it’s equidistant between Lime Street and Central stations, it’s close to some very historic buildings, and if we can bring it back to its true potential then the context of what’s around it will work for it not against it.

“I think anyone who lives in the city would like to see this part of town really brought back to its historic best, and I’d include the controversial Adelphi in that because it’s still an incredible building. The Vines is another important iconic building in this particular location so it’s one step at a time.”



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