First restaurant confirmed for Sheepfolds
The owners of a Michelin Guide restaurant have been unveiled as the first occupiers of Sunderland’s hotly anticipated new leisure venue Sheepfolds.

The owners of a Michelin Guide restaurant have been unveiled as the first occupiers of Sunderland’s hotly anticipated new leisure venue Sheepfolds.

John and Kimberley Calton, who run Newcastle’s Route – a casual bistro with a coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand, that serves up seasonal plates and wines – have announced plans to open a new restaurant called Zinc.

Set within a custom building at Sunderland’s Sheepfolds, Zinc will be heavily produce-driven with an emphasis on seasonal food, sourced locally wherever possible. The menu will have a slight bias towards fish and shellfish due to the venue’s proximity to the coast, as well as rare-breed meats and game. The restaurant plans to grow its own herbs and vegetables, which will also become a staple of the menu.

The Caltons – who previously ran the multi award winning Staith House in North Shields for nine years – hope to create a laid-back dining experience, delivering flavours that really pack a punch, in a stylish, contemporary environment. Providing a backdrop to the food and music will be a seasonal drinks list featuring local beers, cocktails, fizz, organic and biodynamic wines.

The restaurant’s name is inspired by the black, zinc-clad building it will occupy, which will stand in the middle of Sheepfolds – a vibrant hospitality hub taking shape on the site of a Grade II Listed former stables. It is being transformed by Sunderland based BDN, an architectural practice that recently renovated the Old Simpson Street School, as its own commercial development.

John said: “We’re massively excited to be launching Zinc in Sheepfolds, an amazing venue that is being brought back to life with incredible vision and energy.

“When we saw the plans for Sheepfolds, we were so inspired by the vision that we knew we had to be part of it. We can’t wait until the venue’s ready and we can deliver something really special to the people of Sunderland. We’re not here to just make up the numbers; we really want to set the bar high.”

Zinc is expected to create 12 new full-time jobs when it opens, and is looking to employ local people and build relationships with the city’s training providers, including Sunderland College, to nurture new talent both in the kitchen and front of house.

“We hope this will not only create opportunities for Sunderland people to enjoy a fantastic dining experience, but for local talent to be developed too, and we’re excited to form new relationships to enable that,” added John.

Planning permission was granted for Sheepfolds in May, paving the way for the stables and surrounding courtyards to be transformed into a vibrant new leisure destination, for food, drinks, events and entertainment.

The venue will serve up a cornucopia of culinary styles, with eight individual operators within the site and large outdoor spaces for people to enjoy drinks, including a staged area with its back to the River Wear.

Rick Marsden, managing director of BDN, said: “Sheepfolds is an exceptional space, and we were determined to find the best occupiers for it, each of whom will bring their own unique flavour to the place.

“We couldn’t be happier to be working with John and Kimberley, who have created a really authentic restaurant in Route and we’re sure Zinc will match it for quality and experience. We look forward to seeing Sunderland’s reaction when it opens its doors next year.”

Zinc will occupy a brand-new building, adjoining the former horse hospital, which stands in the centre of the stables’ courtyard. Modern industrial design, with a black zinc finish will give a distinctive look to the restaurant which is large enough for 50 guests at one time and will feature a chef’s table for a special dining experience and a large terrace with sprawling riverside views.

The business has been supported by Sunderland City Council, whose team have worked closely with BDN to attract the right businesses to take space in the building.

John added: “Kimberley and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sunderland City Council and Rick and his colleagues at BDN for their approach towards us and for giving us the chance to become a part of a fantastic regeneration project for the city.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Sheepfolds is such an exciting concept-venue and one we had great confidence would attract high calibre occupiers, so it’s brilliant to see proven restauranteurs like John and Kimberley, who have enjoyed much success to date, choosing Sunderland for their next venture.

“Like other residents in Sunderland, I am really looking forward to seeing Sheepfolds open its doors and having venues like Zinc add to the city’s food and drink offer, complementing the wider Riverside Sunderland development, which will bring thousands of new people into the city centre to live, work and play.”

Sheepfolds will be connected to the city centre by a new Smartbridge that will provide a pedestrian and cyclist crossing between Sheepfolds and the former Vaux Brewery site, both of which are being spectacularly reimagined as part of Sunderland City Council’s Riverside Sunderland plan. The masterplan, which was launched in 2019, will see a number of large-scale development projects progressing in the city centre, part of an ambitious vision to double the residential population in the city centre and increase employment by 50 per cent.

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Posted 23rd June 2022

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