Elvis is back in the building

Krimo Bouabda with the Elvis Presley cutout in his restaurant

Krimo Bouabda with the Elvis Presley cutout in his restaurant

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THE King has made a comeback as the final touches are made to a restaurant recovering from a kitchen fire.

Elvis Presley has once again taken pride of place in Portofino, off Marina Way, Hartlepool Marina.

The popular 5ft-high cutout of the American superstar had adorned the wall of the Mediterranean restaurant for 13 years before it was smoke damaged in the March blaze.

Restaurant boss Krimo Bouabda had owned the much-loved Elvis since 1998 and was determined to find an exact replica to go back in its place.

And now he has filled the gap that was left after searching high and low for a replacement.

Krimo said: “I am happy to say that a few weeks after being forced out of the building by smoke and flames, Elvis is back at Portofino. I searched the web high and low for the exact replica of our Elvis cardboard cutout and finally I found a company that specialises in immortalising famous people.

“When it arrived, I could not wait to unwrap him and place him back where he belonged.”

A cutout of Marilyn Monroe that was damaged is not being replaced as Krimo looks to add a new face to the restaurant.

The original Elvis and Marilyn were bought by Krimo during a trip to Edinburgh and he remembers the strange looks he got as he carried them down the street.

The Algerian cook said: “People were stopping and looking, and then were asking where we had got them from. It was quite funny as it was just an impulse buy, but they became very popular.

“Both were on the balcony and on the day Elvis went back up, a three-year-old boy came in and said ‘mummy, Elvis is back from his holiday’. That made me laugh.”

On Marilyn’s future he said: “Although she is a legend, I feel we may need to ask our customers who they would like to see up there with The King.

“So far, choices vary from Madonna to Kylie Minogue or Mickey Mouse to Bart Simpson.”

Krimo is taking written requests at the restaurant with the most popular becoming the latest celebrity to adorn the wall. The request drawn from a hat will win a meal for two at Portofino.