Restaurant serves up a funky new look

The Billinge Arms
The Billinge Arms
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A popular pub and restaurant has been given an unusual new look as its owners try to return it to the heart of the community.

The Billinge Arms on Main Street threw open its doors recently to show off its new steampunk theme, transporting drinkers and diners back to Victorian times with a modern twist.

The Billinge Arms inside

The Billinge Arms inside

The restaurant, previously Italian establishment Bella Roma, has also been changed and is now a grill venue operating under the name The Huntsman.

Wendy Sookasian, who owns the site with her partner Abed, said she wanted to spruce the place up to make it the go-to venue for Billinge residents once more.

She said: “The launch night was very successful, we had at least 200 people turn up. We have had excellent comments about the refurbishment too.

“In recent times we’ve found more people have been coming to the pub who aren’t from the area, and we really wanted to welcome all the local people back. That’s why we did the relaunch.”

The pub has been totally redesigned and is now full of quirky touches based on the 19th century, such as bowler hat lamps, bar stools in the shapes of library books and Big Ben and prints on the walls of animals wearing formal, old-fashioned clothing.

The new look is an in-house effort as it is the first big job for Triquetra, a new design company set up by Wendy and her friends Kim Meehan and Lisa Mosley, which they now hope to expand to do other pub refits.

Wendy says the revamping of the Billinge Arms also threw up a lovely story as a small piece of recent social history was discovered.

She said: “We found a message in a bottle. We were refitting the restaurant and there was a shelf full of wine bottles.

“We were keeping some for decoration and throwing out others and my friend dropped one of them.

“A message came out of it. It was from 2003 and was by a couple who had written about living life to the full and put their names on it.

“We asked about it on Facebook and it caused a lot of excitement on social media. In the end we were able to track the couple down and they came to the relaunch event.

“The three of us who set up Triquetra are all social workers, but we enjoy working together and wanted to find something where we could do that.

“The steampunk theme for the pub came from a brainstorming session where we all decided that was what we wanted to do.”

Wendy and Abed have owned the pub and restaurant for 13 years, having originally intended to build houses on the land, but been impressed by its central position in the Billinge community.