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New start for former night club building

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: April 30, 2014

  • The Elite building in Ashbourne Market Place, which could be turned into an Indian bar and restaurant.

  • DEGM20140428B-0081_C.JPG DEGM20140428B-0081_C.JPG Picture By: Geoff Merryweather

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AN historic Ashbourne building which has served as a cinema, theatre and night-club known as "Vegas" could be brought back to life as an Indian bar and restaurant.

The top floor of the Elite Building, which began as the town's cinema in the 1930s, could be transformed into a lavish establishment capable of accommodating up to 120 diners.

Restaurateur Irfan Shabir, along with his business partner Matt Slack, say they have been keen to find an historic property to extend a chain of businesses under the brand 'Maazi', which means history in Mr Shabir's native Pakistan. The former software engineer says his company looks out for old buildings such as cinemas to ensure his restaurants offer a characterful environment.

Mr Shabir, who has restaurants in Matlock and Hathersage, said: "Anyone who knows us will know that we love old buildings.

"Our dream is always to create something special that the town can be proud of.

"We're hoping to create a beautiful interior, a stunning bar and restaurant, in Ashbourne, that will be a landmark building for the town."

Mr Irfan's vision for the building, which was known in later years as Cassandra's nightclub, includes a 'live kitchen', on display to guests, which he says will 'add a bit of theatre' to the restaurant.

In Matlock, Mr Shabir's family-run restaurant in Causeway Lane is known locally for its fleet of Indian tuk-tuk vehicles, which carry out deliveries in the area.

Mr Shabir hinted Ashbourne's streets could also soon be home to tuk-tuks, as he hopes to have the new restaurant open by the end of summer.

He explained the interior of the restaurant, which will serve Indian food, would be decorated in a traditional Indian style.

It would also reflect his love for the Middle East and the Arabic countries.

In 2010, shortly after a failed attempt to resurrect a nightclub on the top floor of the Elite Building, its owner, town businessman Michael Gallimore, began a project to restore it and create a community-focused arts venue. But a heritage grant which could have paid for the conversion fell through and the building remained empty.

As a nightclub and theatre venue, especially throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the building became the centre of Ashbourne's night life and 'Vegas', as it was affectionately known because of its bright lights, was as popular with revellers as the legendary Green Man Disco at the former St John Street pub.

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