Hastings restaurant reopens almost a year and a half after major fire in Old Town

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A restaurant has reopened in Hastings Old Town, almost a year and a half after being forced to close following a devastating fire at a former amusement arcade.

The Rainbow Restaurant, in Sturdee Place, suffered extensive damage after a fire broke out at the former amusement arcade in George Street in January last year.

After the blaze owners said that they had to close the restaurant due to ‘significant damage’ caused by the fire and added that they would not be able to reopen for ‘at least six months’.

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Owners said repair works were then delayed, mainly due to bad weather over the last few months, before the restaurant finally reopened on Saturday (May 11) to welcome back customers.

The Rainbow Restaurant in Hastings has reopened. L-R: Oenone, Becky and Katrina.The Rainbow Restaurant in Hastings has reopened. L-R: Oenone, Becky and Katrina.
The Rainbow Restaurant in Hastings has reopened. L-R: Oenone, Becky and Katrina.

Becky Smith, who owns the Rainbow Restaurant with her partner Michael Kiniaris, said: “It’s nice to be open again. We were shut for 16 months. We had to find new staff as the other staff we had had to move on. The workmen only finished a week ago putting the new shelves up.

“The place was not cleared for six months after the fire and then we had all of the rain throughout the winter, which delayed all of the repair work. Our target date was to reopen by Christmas last year, then the February half-term this year, then the May Day Bank Holiday but we were not ready.

“The firefighters were trying their hardest to save our business. A wall collapsed in our kitchen and completely crushed it to the ground. The whole wall connected to our restaurant fell on top. There wasn’t any actual fire damage. It was mainly water damage and a lot of debris.”

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She said she was notified about the fire from a member of staff who lives in the area, who saw smoke coming from the arcade.

The Rainbow Restaurant in Hastings has reopened.The Rainbow Restaurant in Hastings has reopened.
The Rainbow Restaurant in Hastings has reopened.

Becky added that a lot of her regular customers have returned to the restaurant, and that many come from outside Hastings.

She added: “I do feel we need to build the trade back up again.”

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) said up to 10 pumps spent all night tackling the blaze at the former amusement arcade and nightclub on January 18 last year. Residents in nearby properties also had to be evacuated.

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Firefighters were still at the scene early the next morning and the road had to be closed off to traffic until later that day.

The three-storey building was sold for redevelopment into 20 flats in November 2022. Planning permission was then sought to demolish the building to make way for four commercial units and 21 flats. But the application was then withdrawn.

Following the fire, the Rainbow Restaurant’s owners received an outpouring of support from the community. A JustGiving page was set up in aid of the owners to help them with costs, with more than £1,500 being raised.

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