“Norwich could be looking at lobster wars” - Former Samson and Hercules nightclub to become lobster restaurant

The former Samson and Hercules building in Tombland is being turned into restaurant Just Lobsters by Michael Phillips.
 Picture: Simon Finlay The former Samson and Hercules building in Tombland is being turned into restaurant Just Lobsters by Michael Phillips. Picture: Simon Finlay

Saturday, August 9, 2014
9:55 AM

It’s the former Norwich nightclub where hundreds danced the night away for decades prior to its demise.

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The former Samson and Hercules building in Tombland is being turned into restaurant Just Lobsters by Michael Phillips including the 15th century archway in the crypt. 
Picture: Simon FinlayThe former Samson and Hercules building in Tombland is being turned into restaurant Just Lobsters by Michael Phillips including the 15th century archway in the crypt. Picture: Simon Finlay

Now, a new owner has got his claws into the site best known as the former Samson and Hercules ballroom and nightclub, with the aim of turning it into Norwich’s first lobster restaurant.

Mike Phillips is managing the £120,000 project with the aim of Just Lobsters being open at the Tombland-location on October 1.

Mr Phillips, who ran a similar venture in Norwich’s Timberhill almost two decades ago, said: “We are bringing lobsters to the people. They are perceived as being a luxury food, but they don’t have to be.

“Our lobsters will come from Canada and Maine in the US. I would love to buy local but prices for local lobsters are excessive. The restaurant will also serve shellfish, prawns, and you will be able to get steak, if you don’t like lobsters. We will have about 15 staff.”

He said future plans include turning the basement into a crypt bar, in about a year’s time. He said they planned to open two more similar restaurants in East Anglia in the next few years.

Opinion: Why it’s time to rekindle our love for the Samson and Hercules

It is thought the current building was built by the Mayor of Norwich, Christopher Jay, in 1657, with the famous statues originally made from timber, but white replicas installed when Samson lost an arm.

The building once housed a large swimming pool. Later on, a dance floor was installed over the top of it and it was transformed into a ballroom in 1939. At that time it became a popular venue with the troops stationed in Norwich. But it was severely damaged by fire in 1944 and was renovated and partly reconstructed in the early 1950s.

Many Norwich couples first met each other there and it was a popular wedding reception venue in the 1940s and 1950s.

Over the years, as the venue went from being a ballroom to the nightclub Ritzy’s and Fifth Avenue, and more recently Ikon.

There were once plans for the statues to be removed, which sparked a public outcry. As a result, they were retained and restored.

The ground floor and basement of the building has been empty for six years, although the upper floors have been turned into four flats.

The old ballroom/nightclub has been split in two with the former dance floor at the back now a car park. As part of the transformation, the front part of the building will be repainted, and the two iconic statues, of Samson and Hercules, are staying.

They will be painted gold while the front of the building gets a beige and grey makeover. Meanwhile, Norwich could be going from a city without any lobster restaurants to one with two.

The former Tea and Little Cakes cafe in Timberhill has a sign on it saying ‘Coming Soon, Love Lobsters’.

Mr Phillips added: “Norwich could be looking at lobster wars.”

Are you breathing new life into one of Norwich’s oldest buildings? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

16 comments

  • Mad Brewer - RW didn't say "less night clubs", he said "a few less night clubs" which is perfectly ok. By the way, how long have you been in the Grammar Police?

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    Only Me

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

  • Burger and Lobster ghastly that is not dining out. Thermidor,,American,Natural sur Mere..Stephen ignorance can sometimes be disguised by experience of eating in top quality restaurants.

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    PaulH

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

  • Already dead animals in restaurants is cruel too.

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    Banana Babe

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • Why does it matter, other restaurants still have dead animals but killed elsewhere. At least people could watch them die and maybe appreciate that a poor animal has died for their unnecessary greed.

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    Banana Babe

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • Lobster from Canada would be frozen, same as you . Can buy in lidl.

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    gerry mitson

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • che bramley; you beat me to it. Respect!! Total ;-)) Rob Whittle - it`s "fewer". I think the "War" is with folk from India etc who bake bread. Crust Asians. Ho.. bor.

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    Mad Brewer

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • And in other locations in Norwich, prospective customers are able to catch crabs. Clearly this can be achieved by munching out in Ber Street

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    che bramley

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • So..at war with what?

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    Rob_H

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • PaulH ..... I would think the lobsters will be live....

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    Stephen

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • Ignorant negative comments about lobster restaurants here are ridiculous .... You should get out more. Restaurants such as 'Burger & Lobster' & 'The Big Easy' in London serving Canadian & U.S lobster (not frozen) are runaway success stories. Good luck to these new ventures in Norwich ....

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    Stephen

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • Fresh lobsters caught locally delicious Frozen ones tasteless.Susie they are dead when they arrive here.

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    PaulH

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • I agree,really hope this place fails if it's going to be keeping live lobsters in tank for people to pick out and boil alive..

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    ChrisJohnson1970

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • Good luck Mike , if it's anywhere near as good as timber hill used to be , I'm sure it will be a success . Bucket full's of steamed mussels to share with my friends were my favourites .

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    bigsteve

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • Its nice to see a vacant site at tombland put to good use to add to the quality of gastronomic choice in this area. Additionally its nice to see one less potential nightclub site, it would be nice to see a few less night club sites in the PoW area,

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    Rob Whittle

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • 'Love Lobster'..... A vastly overrated food in my opinion.

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    Vic Sponge

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • So now we will have a restaurant were they will be boiling alive lobsters for people to eat........No way will I be going here. Cruel

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    susiewong

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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