A RESTAURANT finally re-opened its doors last week after a 485 day wait.

Avanti Restaurant, Kirkby Lonsdale, saw customers flooding back for drinks on Wednesday, July 21 for the first time since the Mediterranean restaurant was forced to close at the beginning of the first national lockdown, in March last year.

New owner Graeme Gladwinfield, who bought the business in January, said the last week has been ‘incredible’ and that he felt huge relief to welcome customers back.

“We opened on Wednesday night and did two nights of drinks and then three days of food and we have been absolutely inundated,” he said.

“It was a massive relief because the past few months have been incredibly stressful.

“I’m also very proud because we’ve created something very special.

“Some of the staff this is their first job in hospitality, we wanted to give them a chance.

“And they’ve absolutely smashed it.

“It has been incredible and the support from Kirkby Lonsdale and the surrounding area has been fantastic.”

The eatery has undergone a complete transformation, which has been carried out by local businesses and traders.

“We have completely replaced the interiors,” said Mr Gladwinfield.

“The whole refurbishment has been done by people who live in town.”

Hungry customers can expect new flooring, lighting, furniture, a new bar and much more.

The takeover of the restaurant is Mr Gladwinfield’s first hospitality venture.

“Like a lot of people 2020 proved to be a very challenging year and I wanted a new chapter,” he said.

“And I also wanted to put Avanti back on map where it deserves because it used to be the place to be.

“I couldn’t bear to see it closed.”

The restaurateur feels positive about the months ahead and is on the lookout for new staff members to join his team.

“Despite the issue with staff I do feel positive,” he said.