A BISTRO will be moving into a former burger restaurant in Southend.

Henry Burgers is closing it’s Southend branch to concentrate on Leigh but former pub landlady Ann Bush is taking over the restaurant, off of Alexander Street, and hopes to transform it into a successful bar and bistro.

Neighbouring restaurant Legend-Deli is also staying put after scrapping plans to move.

Mrs Bush, of Sutton Road, Rochford, will call the restaurant “Annie’s Bar and Bistro” and plans to completely refurbish the place, have upstairs as a function room available for hire staying open until 3am.

She said: “We will be refurbishing and opening upstairs. We have exciting things planned for the future. Upstairs will also be a function room as well as a restaurant, with bands and it will be available for private hire.”

The restaurant will be open during the day and evening with a variety of dishes including different types of steak.

Mrs Bush hopes to officially take over today, March 14, and is adamant the bar and bistro will be open to the public at the weekend, with the refurbishment taking place after Easter.

She said: “It’s all happening over the course of two to three months.

“As soon as we take over we will be closed for a day, two days maximum. We will be open this weekend no matter what (sat 19).”

The restaurant has a licence to open until 3am which she intends to put to use.

She added: “The opening times will be the same but we will be open later. The place has a late licence but it is not being used at the moment. I hope to stay open as late as 3am.”

Mrs Bush has a ten year minimum lease on the property and decided to open the restaurant after being bored during her retirement.

She said: “I haven’t opened anything like this before but have run pubs and restaurants for over 35 years.

“I retired and I got bored. I want to go back to work, I love the work and love the industry.

“All customers are welcome, old and new.”

Jay Finlay, owner of Legend-Deli, had planned to leave Market Place due to the ‘out of the way’ location.

But he’s now staying put and is delighted another restaurant will be opening.

He said:” I’m very happy. The more businesses the better for us, the more the merrier. The busier it becomes the better.

“We are definitely stay now and plan to expand and get better and better.

“I am sad to see Henry go but the Leigh one does really well.”

The Bistro will be serving a huge variety of dishes, all will be homemade, including: Burgers, pasta dishes, salads, fish dishes.

The restaurant hopes to serve a variety of steaks including: Sirloin steak, rib eye steak and T bone steak.

HENRY Burgers opened its doors in Southend for the final time at the weekend.

The restaurant, in Market Place, served up their speciality burgers to their loyal customers one last time on Saturday so owner Henry Burgess can concentrate on the Leigh branch.

Henry Burgess said before Christmas he was selling the lease for his Southend premises a year before it expires in order to focus on the restaurant’s Leigh branch, along the Broadway, but added the Southend restaurant’s location was a factor.

Owner, Mr Burgess, said: “Leigh has been keeping me very busy. I felt like I was spreading myself too thinly with the two sites, so I want to concentrate on the one site. I will miss that building, it is a lovely atmosphere there.”

He said the handover to Ann Bush hasn’t gone through yet but will be imminent.

Saturday night was the final night at the restaurant and Mr Burgess expressed his gratitude to his loyal customers and staff.

He continued: “Saturday night was the last time we were open. We have had some amazing support since we have opened. There has been a lot of staff that have been here over the years that have helped me get to where I am at the moment.”

“The site has been a big part of my life, with the Sunrooms as well, for nine years. It’s a bit of a change but I suppose life goes on.”