For more than 200 years it was a fruit and vegetable warehouse on Hull’s waterfront, only closing its doors in 2009.
However it is now a fine dining restaurant at the forefront of a £80m regeneration programme to create the city’s first urban village.
Butler Whites - named after two fruit and veg businesses based on their site on Humber Street - is a 3,000 sq ft venue can accommodate up to 120 covers comfortably inside, with seating for up to a further 40 customers outside.
Its owners created the venue out of the bare shell that was the former warehouse and they want it and the Fruit Market development to help make the area a must-visit part of “destination Hull”.
The venture is a labour of love for business partners Chris Eastaugh, Jason Gittins and Dan Robinson who have worked together for the past 10 years, including running the successful Henry Yeast bistro and bar in Hull’s Newland Avenue.
Mr Eastaugh said: “We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved. The hospitality scene in Hull has always been created by people from Hull. Now we are seeing high-quality restaurateurs from places like Leeds and York coming in and looking around the Fruit Market.
“Other things are changing too. Many people from the Hull area choose to go to Leeds or York for the day, to enjoy the shopping, restaurants and other attractions, but the trains and roads go this way too. Why shouldn’t Hull be a destination? As the regeneration takes off, we can see people in Leeds and York saying ‘let’s spend the day in Hull’ and they will come to the Fruit Market. We have a beautiful marina and waterfront, culture, history, heritage and character.Butler Whites opened as a trial run for the recent Humber Street Sesh, which draws tens of thousands of people into the Fruit Market for a one-day “festival for the people, by the people”.
Mr Gittins said: “We’re all Hull born and bred and proud of the city. Over recent years we’ve seen a dramatic change and now it’s great to be forerunners for this area.
“We’ve very proud of the Fruit Market and what it is becoming. It has so many opportunities and great premises. There is an opportunity to create a fantastic environment for people to live, work and socialise and to take Hull to another level.”
The rejuvenation of Hull’s cultural and creative quarter is being driven forward by the joint venture company Wykeland Beal formed by regeneration leader Wykeland Group and residential developer Beal Homes, in partnership with Hull City Council.
The rejuvenation of the Fruit Market includes new and refurbished commercial, retail and leisure space centred on Humber Street. The commercial units are complemented by more than 100 new mews-style homes around private courtyards, subject to planning permission.
David Donkin, property director of Hull-based Wykeland, said: “The owners of Butler Whites have done a great job in creating a high-quality environment and experience to be enjoyed by local diners and visitors to the city alike.”
The Fruit Market has been an area of economic activity for 200 years and was the centre of Hull’s wholesale fruit and vegetable trade until 2009.
In recent years it found a new role as the heart of the city’s vibrant festival scene and as an artistic and cultural hub.
The latest plans build on a wave of investment, including Wykeland’s £15m @TheDock development, which features the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) tech hub and Stage @TheDock, a 350-seat amphitheatre, currently under construction.
The area is now home to 70 companies employing hundreds of people.