Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 10.05.04A doting son has re-opened his revamped wine bar in memory of his dad just one-and-a-half years after his death.

In January 2013 Gavin Bowmaker bought the building next to Allard’s Lounge, in Tynemouth, with the intention of expanding his popular business, but just weeks later his dad Len fell ill with bowel cancer.

His new venture took a back seat as Gavin, 33, and business partner and fiancee Ashley Hall focused on helping former carpet-fitter Len deal with the deadly disease.

Len Bowmaker, who was well known around North Tyneside after fitting carpets there for 50 years, visited his son almost every day at Allard’s and helped out around the bar up until his condition worsened three weeks before his death in June last year.

On Wednesday (10th December), almost three years after the premises was bought, Gavin opened the doors of his new-look business with mementoes of his dad all around the building.

Gavin, from Monkseaton, said: “It was such a hard time. I couldn’t focus my mind on anything else.

“Even when he was ill, he would be down here by 7am tidying up, checking the bins were sorted out and that everything was in the right place. He kept us all on our toes.”

Ashley, 31, added: “I’d get in around 8.30am and the place would be full of people coming in just to see him! He just loved being around people.”

Visitors to the stylish wine bar on Front Street will be welcomed by some obvious and some more subtle references to Len, who owned Monkseaton Carpet Centre and Homestyle Carpets in North Shields.

Gavin said: “I had his name and the years he lived engraved on a stone outside so there is always a piece of him here. We wanted him to be remembered and now people coming in to Allard’s will see his name and hopefully will remember him.

“Now we have a butterfly on the wall and that’s for him too. Dad’s ashes are in an urn with butterflies all over it, and if my mum sees a butterfly she says it’s the spirit of dad, she even puts a butterfly stamp in when she signs a card.

“Now we have the butterfly on the wall we know he’ll always be looking over us. We couldn’t have got to where we are today without him.”

Many of the memorials will be within the new dining area of the wine bar – where customers can order some of Allard’s’ famous tapas.

The ‘old’ Allard’s building, which will continue to be dog-friendly, will focus on serving tea, coffee and cake during the day, and drinks in the evening.

Gavin and Ashley, who is from North Shields, are looking forward to welcoming many more customers – their capacity has more than doubled from 48 to 100, with 30 seats outside – and want to hire out the new area for parties and corporate functions.

Gavin added: “With this new space comes loads of new possibilities for us. We are so excited about the future.

“One of the big things for us is being able to take reservations for the first time. Plus we want to get a wider range of customers in, like businesses who could use the space for meetings and networking events.”

Gavin met Ashley while working in the famous Sammy Jacks nightclub a decade ago; a business he went on to own by the age of 26.

After selling Sammy Jacks, Gavin and Ashley bought the former Threshers shop space on Front Street in 2010, and decided on the name ‘Allard’s’ after looking into the history of the building, before going on to purchase the next-door unit, a car-parts store, 18 months later.

In 1877, the Allard’s shop space was ‘The Stores’ grocer’s shop owned by John Wilson and Stephen Lawrence Allard.

They then, in a move that echoes the Allard’s expansion, moved next door and rented the original space to a dressmakers. They went on to open another six shops in Monkseaton and Whitley Bay.

Now Gavin, who shut down Allard’s on 30th November for redecoration, has relaunched his wine bar, complete with new menu and new look interior, and is keen to keep business booming.

Gavin said: “When we were looking into the history of the building we thought ‘Allard’s’ had a nice ring to it. We wanted to keep the history of the place tied in with what we were doing.

“We found loads of old artefacts – things like pictures and adverts – and put them on the walls too.

“There is so much history here – we even have history teachers bringing school kids round as there used to be a cock-fighting pit in the gents’ toilets!

“We are very lucky to have our business in a building with such an amazing past. Hopefully we can give it a suitably successful future and leave a lasting legacy to my dad.”

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