Frere Jacques, one of my favourite restaurants since it opened on Kingston’s riverside in 1994, will close at the end of August.
This is not due to failure – as the town’s only French brassierie, idyllically sited by Kingston Bridge, it is as popular now as it has ever been.
The closure is because its premises must go in September when Canadian and Portland Estates begin their remodelling of Bishop’s Palace House.
John Miles, co-founder of Canadian and Portland, said his company bought the building in 2006 and has been planning its transformation ever since.
The first phase will be on the riverside section, where Frere Jacques and the car park will disappear to make way for six new restaurants, four of which are already under offer.
Phase two will not start until 2019 when leases of the other tenants – TK Maxx, Russell-Cooke Solicitors and McClusky’s Club – come to an end.
They will then be replaced by three restaurants, including a rooftop one.
Mr Miles said he had known and loved the Kingston riverside since he was three-years-old, so this project is close to his heart.
He said: “The building dates from the late 1970s and was good for its time.
“We are keeping its skeleton, but replacing the heavy red brick facade with a re-cladding of Portland stone and glass far more in keeping with such a beautiful site.”
On the subject of new restaurants, Las Iguanas opened Kingston’s first South American one in the High Street last Saturday, and Cattle Grid is opening a steak restaurant and grill in the Rotunda any time soon.
Vacant shops in Kingston town centre seldom stay empty for long.
The Clarence Street premises occupied by Pumpkin Patch, the children’s wear specialist which collapsed in January, has been taken over by Tiger and will open on June 8.
This Danish company, born in Copenhagen in 1995, now has more than 100 stores across Europe, and describes itself as “a variety store with a difference”, where everything is priced in whole pounds with nothing exceeding £20.