Harveys Cellars is to open as a sherry and tapas bar, in the former home of the world-famous Harveys Bristol Cream.
The former Michelin-starred Harveys Restaurant, which closed in 2003, has been bought by property developer Clinton Mcleary who wants to bring sherry back to 12 Denmark Street. The original restaurant, designed and built by Sir Terrance Conran in 1961, was – along with the Harveys museum – a Bristol “destination” for over 40 years.
Clinton and business manager Claire Judd are working to retain some of the feel of the old venue, along with some new features. The bar is divided into various areas: a gallery hosted by Hotwell Road’s View Gallery, the main bar and dining area, a VIP tasting area and a music room.
Although the contents of the original Harveys museum were sold off in 2003, they have been scouring the Internet to trace original items that they have bought or borrowed from collectors – these now make up a small museum that sits within the new bar’s VIP area. They have even managed to find the original baby grand piano that used to entertain diners, and this sits within the venue’s new music room. In time, they are also hoping to expose parts of the building that have been bricked up for years, and that are rumoured to include the original tunnels that ran from Harveys cellars to the dockside.
Clinton and Claire’s aim is to create an upmarket bar, serving sherries from Harveys (including the VORS – Very Old Rare Sherries – range) alongside tapas dishes that have been specially designed to complement them. They are expecting the venue to be a big hit with local businesses, along with the theatre crowds and tourists.
Says Claire, “Harveys is huge in America and there is a big tourist trade that we are hoping to tap into. We are always getting people popping in to see what we are up to and there is a lot of interest in the brand. I am feeling very confident about the project.”
I was lucky enough to have a tour of the building this week, and it looks fantastic – particularly the amazing light display using old Bristol Blue Glass bottles that previously held Harveys Bristol Cream. The venue should be opening before the end of November – watch this space for more information!