A plan has been tabled to turn a “dry bar” into a restaurant serving meals and alcohol while boosting young people’s job prospects.
Bailey’s Grill and Bar CIC has submitted a licensing application to Wigan Council for the Ashton building currently occupied by Sam’s Dry Bar and Eatery.
The alcohol-free space on Heath Road is shutting at the end of the month and the grill and bar’s founder hopes the facility will get young people on apprenticeships or in training into the kitchen to develop their skills and boost their CVs.
But the plan has not met with universal approval as one Ashton resident has already submitted a strongly-worded criticism and call for the bid to be rejected.
The application to the local authority asks for the supply of alcohol on the premises to be allowed together with provision to show films and have live entertainment.
Josh Bailey, who came up with the idea and intends to run it as a not-for-profit organisation, said it was sad the facility aimed at ex-military personnel was closing but it was time to start with a fresh idea.
He said his own experiences in the hospitality industry led him to think of ways people starting out could get a foot on the career ladder.
Mr Bailey said: “Opening my own restaurant is something I’ve always wanted to do. The dry bar is shutting down and this is a new business in the same space.
“I want to get in touch with the college and start young people on apprenticeships off. It’s hard for them. I was an apprentice myself in catering and it was harder than most other options. I want to give people that chance.
“I’m gutted the dry bar is going because it was used for ex-forces and people with post-traumatic stress disorder but there are other things for them now so we’re trying new things and starting a new chapter.”
Mr Bailey said the bar and grill will serve evening meals and there could also be live music some nights.
The licensing application is for the premises to be open from Tuesday to Thursday between noon and 10pm, on Friday and Saturday from 9am until 10pm and on Sunday from noon until 7pm.
However, the plan has not impressed Ashton resident and political activist Michael Moulding, who said the area already has too many places serving alcohol.
In an objection letter to Wigan Council Mr Moulding said: “Heath Road is a residential street and already has three licensed premises. Having another in any format is completely unacceptable.
“The address given is next door to a pub. I find it inconceivable Wigan Council is allowing the possibility of having two licensed premises next to each other.
“This property is supposed to be alcohol-free. I feared months ago the original intentions are a slippery slope to a licensed premises.
“Residents cannot know in the months and years ahead what this will lead to. Once approval to serve alcohol has been given and it has been converted into a bar it can then become a pub and the 10pm licence can go later. It becomes very hard to stop and the community could end up with something on their doorstep they did not want.
“This application should be rejected.”
Mr Moulding also wants the planning department to consider the new grill and bar and it is understood that discussions are taking place at the council about this.
Anyone wanting to comment has until August 23 to make representations.