Three big-name restaurants have signed up to help create Southend’s new leisure park, set to rival Bas Vegas.

Chiquitos, Coast 2 Coast, and Frankie and Benny’s have all applied for a licence to open up at the Seaway car park redevelopment, off Lucy Road – which could create up to 100 jobs.

The Echo also understands that Cineworld is the operator chosen to run the multiplex cinema for the planned leisure complex, which would include a multi-storey car park.

The complex would be similar to Basildon’s Festival Leisure Park and Southend Council is expecting to sign a deal with a development partner to make the long-awaited scheme a reality next month.

If all goes to plan it could open at the end of 2015 or in early 2016.

Graham Longley, deputy leader of Southend Council and the councillor and responsible for economic regeneration, said: “It’s good they are interested in the town, as these are businesses that operate across the country.

“I would hope this is just the beginning of continued business activity in the town and it shows the value people are seeing in Southend.

“Basildon has its own offer and we will have our offer. It is up to people to decide what they prefer.”

The Restaurant Group runs all three big chains and said its existing Frankie and Benny’s restaurant in Southchurch Road would not be affected by the proposals.

A spokesman for the firm said: “These three restaurants will create about 100 jobs between them.

“Both Frankie and Benny’s in Southend are at different locations so they will co-exist in the town.

“Southend is an extremely vibrant and happening place and they have a number of concepts that will suit people for all prices in the town.”

Coast 2 Coast, which first started trading in 2011, is an American diner with branches in Leicester, Birmingham, Wembley, and, soon, in Basildon.

Mexican diner Chiquitos also has a branch at Basildon’s Festival Leisure Park.

If Cineworld does take on the seafront cinema, it will be its first in south Essex and will compete with the Odeon, at the top of Southend High Street.

Ron Woodley, leader of Southend Council, added: “This is an exciting project that would regenerate and transform the town, create jobs, boost trade and be good for our local residents, businesses and visitors.

“It is great to see the pieces of the regeneration jigsaw starting to come together, and the joint administration looks forward to being able to announce more exciting news with the development partner shortly.”

A planning application is expected in the New Year.


Traders welcome big names

Traders have welcomed the latest influx of big names showing an interest in Southend seafront.

The news that three big-name chains want to come to Southend comes just a week after plans to radically redevelop Marine Plaza on the seafront were revealed, with Nandos and Pizza Express being lined up for that particular project.

Amber Glasby, owner of Pockets Sports Bar, in Lucy Road, said: “If they keep car parking and they have the restaurants close to us we could benefit as people could come out of the cinema and pop over here to play snooker or darts.

“We are at the back of Lucy Road and sometimes we miss out on people going down to the seafront as they don’t know we’re here.”

It is understood that the restaurants will be facing out to Lucy Road, while the multi-storey car park could include the same amount of spaces lost by the car park redevelopment.

Paul Thompson, chairman of the Southend Seafront Traders Association, said: “Hopefully it will be some good competition for Festival Leisure Park.

“Southend can be a destination to come to on a Friday and Saturday night and with all the developments, it is going to be a fantastic place to come"