'It's not cheap but it'll be worth it' - Norwich restaurant plans pergola

Cemal Alby, owner of the Gem of Norwich restaurant, which has reached the number one spot on Tripadv

Cemal Alby, owner of the Gem of Norwich restaurant. - Credit: Archant

A restaurant in Norwich is planning to open a pergola after it saw an increase in outdoor diners due to the pandemic.

Engin Kale, manager of Gem of Norwich in Thorpe Road, said the restaurant had applied to build the structure in order to improve its offering to customers, who were regularly asking to sit outside.

Inside the Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road, Norwich. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Inside the Gem of Norwich restaurant in Thorpe Road, Norwich. - Credit: Archant

The restaurant lodged its application with Norwich City Council on Friday, March 11, to build the outdoor covering which would hold 45 diners and feature a retractable roof and glazed side screens.

Mr Kale said the plan was not to attract more customers but to make its current clientele more comfortable.

"It will have an automatic roof which will open in the summer and close in the winter to give customers a bit of fresh air and then close to keep them warm when it gets cold," he said. 

The Gem of Norwich on Thorpe Road. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

The Gem of Norwich in Thorpe Road. - Credit: Archant

"Since the pandemic we've had more people eating outside and this just gives them another option.

"It is a listed building so we can't do anything inside, but this will hopefully give people more space and give them a better experience."

The restaurant is owned by former fashion producer Cemal Alby, who is originally from the Kurdish region in Turkey, and opened in November 2019.

It is listed as the number one Mediterranean restaurant in Norwich on Tripadvisor.

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Mr Kale said the pergola would also make the restaurant safer with customers more spaced out.

He added: "It's not cheap but it will be worth it, this is going to make it safer for both staff and customers, because we will be able to spread our tables out more and also let the air in which obviously is safer with Covid."