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Metro Bar to offer new place to do business.

Byline: JONGRIFFIN Business Staff

One of the favoured restaurants of the Birmingham business community has revealed plans for a second venue in the city.

Cornwall Street diner Metro Bar and Grill is celebrating its 15th anniversary with proposals for a new continental restaurant in Harborne.

Founder Chris Kelly has unveiled plans for a Metro Continental in Harborne High Street as he seeks to capitalise on the popularity of the original restaurant.

Mr Kelly, who launched Metro on November 14, 1997, after selling two pizza franchises, said: "We had been looking to expand when the right site came up. We have looked at Coventry, Sutton Coldfield and Warwick but Harborne is a superb site and we are looking to open next summer.

Metro in right, founder "We are spending half a million pounds and creating 25 new jobs. The Harborne restaurant will be a slightly different slant, more of a tapas-style operation."

The original Metro Bar and Grill is also set for another 15 years at Cornwall Street after signing a new longterm lease. Parent group Metropolitan Drinking and Dining also runs a Metro restaurant in Solihull.

Mr Kelly and business partner Alastair Tyson, who joined from the Hotel du Vin in 2004, say Metropolitan Drinking and Dining would also consider another Birmingham city centre venue.

"We will continue to expand, gently and quietly," Mr Kelly said. "We would look at another site in the city centre if it was good enough.

"If you had said to me 15 years ago that you would still be here in 15 years' time and you have signed a new 15-year lease, I would have been very happy.

"I was at a function recently and a man said to me that Metro was 'like an old shoe - very comfortable, known it for years, kept very well polished... and it has a good soul.' I thought that was a good tribute."

Looking back 15 years, Mr Kelly said he founded the Metro concept after spotting a niche in the city.

He added: "I had some money in the bank from the sales and this place, which used to be a little Spanish restaurant called Lopez, came onto the market.

"Everybody saw it as a risk but I saw at the time there was not very much competition around Birmingham.

There was La Galleria, Lorenzos in Digbeth, the Grand Hotel and the Midland but there was no real dining culture in Birmingham.

"The city was poorly served - there was a and, Chris Kelly huge difference compared to today. Straightaway it went mad, beyond our wildest dreams. There was a hunger, and we were in the right place at the right time.

"The city needed a little bit of London glitz, but not at stupid prices.

The formula worked from day one. We had well-known business figures in here, the likes of Digby Jones, John James, James Retallack, the late Dick Knowles from the city council, plus celebrities.

"I am told that Metro was the place where many of the area's property deals were signed."

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Metro in Birmingham and, right, founder Chris Kelly
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 22, 2012
Words:518
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