New Marina bar owner speaks of how popping out for lunch led to launching business venture

Open for business: Joe Franks outside his new bar-restaurant, The Open Jar, at Hartlepool Marina.
Open for business: Joe Franks outside his new bar-restaurant, The Open Jar, at Hartlepool Marina.

The owner of one of the new Hartlepool’s new Marina night spots has revealed that popping out for lunch led him to opening new bar ‘The Open Jar.’

Joe Franks, who has run the Station Hotel in Billingham for 18 months, is now the proud owner of one of the new bar-restaurants to have opened along Navigation Point including, ‘Hello Goodbye’ and ‘Oh This Is Us!’

Open for business: Joe Franks outside his new bar-restaurant, The Open Jar, at Hartlepool Marina,

Open for business: Joe Franks outside his new bar-restaurant, The Open Jar, at Hartlepool Marina,

Now property developer Mandale Group, who converted the Marina into a award-winning destination nearly 30 years ago is looking for more entrepreneurs to take over its vacant units on the site.

Mr Franks said: “After visiting one of the local restaurants, I was taking a walk around the marina when I spotted the ‘To let’ sign and thought it looked a potentially nice place.

“I called the number for Mandale Properties on the notice and Joe Darragh came down to meet me half an hour later.
“He showed us around, we went through some numbers and I agreed to take it on there and then!”

Now, having spent £45,000 on a two-month refit that included installing a kitchen and the creation of handmade tables from old railway sleepers, Mr Franks is confident they’re in the right place.

“The Marina is definitely up and coming,” he said.

“People come here looking for a high-quality experience and they get a real variety.

“While we offer a nice range of cocktails, wines and premium beers, we’re mainly food-led, focusing on a high end menu. 
“We’re also the only restaurant on the Marina serving fresh fish dishes such as bass and haddock.”

Mandale recently completed work on several refurbished commercial units within Navigation Point, investing around £100,000 on each unit to provide high-quality air conditioning, lighting systems, kitchen areas and external seating areas.

The area is now known as the established entertainment quarter, with over 20 restaurants, cafes and bars.

However, two further units remain available for immediate lease or sale as part of a £500,000 project that has seen Mandale transform the former headquarters of civil engineering firm Seymour’s, who have moved to purpose-built offices at the nearby Mandale House.

Joe Darragh, head of property development for the Mandale Group, believes the remaining units would be ideal locations for a range of businesses including a micro bar, restaurant, or takeaway.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for a new commercial venture right at the centre of Hartlepool Marina, one of the North-East’s key tourist attractions,” he said.

“The 21 existing units within Navigation Point already combine high quality cuisine and a bustling night life.

“The Marina is becoming a destination venue, so this is a rare opportunity to become part of a successful commercial zone.”