It’s been seven months since two fires severely damaged the famous Magpie Cafe in Whitby but owners are hoping to reopen this month after a £450,000 restoration project completes in the next few days.
The harbourside restaurant, famed for its fish and chip dinners, was devastated by two fires within 24 hours of each other over the bank holiday weekend in May. They are believed to have been caused by a build-up of grease within extract flues concealed within masonry chimney stacks.
MLS Group, based in Hull, has been working with the owners, Ian Robson and Alison McKenzie Slater, since July to bring the 270-year-old building back to life.
The busy road outside the restaurant had to be shut in the height of summer while the new steel roof was put in to replace the timber roof.
The inside of the building was stripped back to its shell.
Its grade-two listed status meant that the outside of the restaurant and its spiral staircase inside could not be touched but the rest of the building has been given a complete makeover.
MLS initially hoped to finish the project by October but there were a few complications along the way.
Mike Lingard Smith, managing director of MLS, said: “What wasn’t fire damaged was water damaged so we had to strip the building right back and that’s when you find out exactly what state it’s in.”
He added: “Any building that age is going to reveal things you didn’t initially anticipate.
“We had a plan but complications have arisen as we’ve gone along. We’ve tried to minimise disruption.”
MLS was founded by Mr Lingard Smith in 2009 when he was 19. The company, which has a £2.5m turnover, is planning for growth in 2018 with plans to double turnover to £4-£6m and more than double staff from six to 15.
Other projects include one of Hull city centre’s most well-known buildings which is being transformed into 90,000 sq ft of offices and luxury apartments.
The neglected Kingston House in Bond Street, a former council building, is set to become the K2 development after it was bought by Beverley-based firm Trade-park from Hull City Council via NPS in August.
It will become home to MLS’s new 3,000 sq ft office as well as a showroom for ceramics manufacturer Porcelanosa.
The company, which is also working on a number of office-to-residential projects and new homes, focuses on construction and energy projects.
It primarily works with investors and developers so working with the Magpie owners required a different approach.
“There is more emotion attached to a building when you’re an owner and we have had to manage that,” said Mr Lingard Smith.
Looking to the future, he added: “We are really busy and most of our work is through referrals and people we’ve worked with before.
“We want sustainable growth. We have always worked out of a small office with our people based on sites throughout the Yorkshire area but we are trying to bring that back to a central base.”
MLS currently works on projects in the Yorkshire area but plans to expand throughout the UK as the company grows.