Earlier this year, Blackburn with Darwen Council revealed it was in advanced talks with the popular Indian cuisine chain to be the flagship tenant in the former Blakey’s building – part of King George’s Hall.
Now, the lease has been signed and contractors are on site working to transform the interior.
The news comes just days after the Council announced that its impressive redevelopment at 35 Northgate – formerly the Ribblesdale Hotel, Gladstone’s and Baroque – is set to become a new tap bar run by the award-winning Blackedge Brewery.
And, striking new hoardings have also been installed outside the neighbouring Blakey Moor building too advertising that as an opportunity for a new restaurant and bar in 2024.
Councillor Quesir Mahmood, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Growth and Development, said:
There’s a huge sense of momentum building around the Blackburn Cultural Quarter.
Our officers have been working really hard to secure the right tenants and it’s fantastic to now have the lease signed for Akbar’s and work already starting on the building.
Akbar’s have successful Indian restaurants in major cities right across the country including Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham so it’s a huge coup for them to come to Blackburn.
In recent weeks, we’ve also seen the opening of the Istanbul restaurant in the Cultural Quarter and work has started on Blackburn College’s iconic Victoria Building too.
Plus, work is really progressing on the Blakey Moor development and that’s really starting to take shape.
We know there’s still lots of work to do, but these feel like key milestones that we can celebrate and build upon.
Akbar’s started out as a small, 28 seater restaurant headed up by Shabir Hussain.
Now, there’s 10 restaurants boasting 67 chefs and more than 300 staff.
The Cultural Quarter is set around the historic King George’s Hall – one of Lancashire’s largest live music venues.
Last year it celebrated its centenary with special gigs including Liam Gallagher and Florence + the Machine.
And, staff there are now gearing up for a busy panto season with tickets on sale for Aladdin – starring Coronation Street’s Tristan Gemmill – who played Robert Preston – as Abanazar.
Councillor Mahmood added:
Our focus has been on building a really strong cultural offer for our towns.
It’s what our residents have told us they want to see and we’ve had an amazing response to the news that Blackedge Brewery is looking to move into Northgate.
Neighbouring Sudell Cross is also seeing a real lift with popular new restaurants on that stretch, including Saffron Street and Toro’s Steakhouse.
Of course, what we need is for our residents and visitors to really support these ventures.
There’s so much to see and do in our town centres – staying local can help make a difference.
The £50m Cultural Quarter is part of Blackburn with Darwen £1bn vision for the future.
Pivotal to that is the £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan around the old Thwaite’s site and the £100m Town Deal, with significant investment for the town centre due to start next year.