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Two big names in Bristol are set to go under the hammer, with both Bells Diner and the Grain Barge being brought to the market by specialist property advisor Christie & Co.

The Bristol Beer Factory-owned Grain Barge – a restaurant, bar and live music venue operating on three levels – is being sold by the company to allow them to concentrate on their growing brewery business.

MD Simon Bartlett explains: “The Grain Barge has played an important part in the success of the brewery. Now we have established a strong local and national reputation we have decided to consolidate our business with the development of our Ashton premises and brewing operation.”

The Grain Barge – complete with mooring licence from Bristol City Council – is on sale for £895,000.

Christie & Co. have also been instructed to sell Montpelier restaurant Bells Diner. Operated since 1997 by chef/owner Chris Wicks, the restaurant was first opened in 1976 by Shirley Anne Bells and John Payne (who later bought the Colston Street Brewery). Upon opening, Bells Diner was regarded as a local neighbourhood restaurant which served students and had a French bistro feel.

Between 1981 and 1986, Bells was run as a vegetarian restaurant and was bought back under the management of Shirley Anne Bells when the reputation of modern French cuisine grew.

The freehold to Bells Diner is available at £400,000. Alternatively, a new lease can be created at a premium of £35,000 and a passing annual rent of £17,000 — although the leasehold option does not include the upstairs apartment.

It is undoubtably sad to see two great Bristol institutions go, but it will be interesting to see what appears in their place. Christie & Co. have their own ideas – Valerie Turner from the company suggests that Bells could either continue in its current format or “embrace the Bohemian area in which the restaurant is positioned”, and that the Grain Barge would be ideal for “a hands-on operator who could further develop the food and event elements of the business.”

Time will tell…


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