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Friday, 26 December 2014

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New Last Zebra bar opens in Carlisle city centre

One of Carlisle’s most popular bars and eateries reopens today with a new name and a new look.

Last Zebra bar photo
John Van Lierop and Ruth Ferry

The Gilded Lily in Lowther Street has become the Last Zebra.

Owner John Van Lierop says it will have a more contemporary feel with industrial-style exposed steelwork and a zebra-skin print on the wall.

This weekend and next it will open on Fridays and Saturdays only, from 9pm to 2.30am, as a bar with a DJ.

Then from Tuesday August 5 it will open through the week serving food and employing up to 20 staff.

The Gilded Lily closed in June, not long after falling foul of food hygiene inspectors.

But Mr Van Lierop said the bad publicity was not the reason for the revamp.

“It’s seven years since we did the Gilded Lily and you have to freshen things up,” he said. “I want it to get back to being a bar serving good food rather than a restaurant, which is what it had become.”

The Last Zebra is managed by Ruth Ferry who also ran the Gilded Lily. Chris Sara, previously at Rheged, has joined as head chef.

Mr Van Lierop says he chose the name Last Zebra because he wanted something “quirky”. He also owns the nightclub Concrete in Lowther Street, and the bars Hell Below and Eaten by Monsters in Devonshire Street, all within yards of the Last Zebra.

He hopes the new venue will appeal to the 25-to-50 age group.

He said: “When you’re in business you’re always looking for a gap in the market. Concrete and a lot of the bars in Botchergate serve the younger people but we’re aiming at young professionals who are slightly older.

“People like that still don’t have anywhere to go.”

Mr Van Lierop’s venues have survived longer than most on Carlisle’s competitive nightlife scene. But he says there is no secret to his success.

“My ideas aren’t original. When you travel around you take in what you see. It’s then a case of putting it all together.”

The Gilded Lily opened in 2007 in what had been Churchill’s pub, and before that the Irish bar Finnegan’s Wake.

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