AFTER years of controversy and delay, work to convert Andover’s Lower Guildhall into a restaurant has now started. Contractors working on behalf of the Richoux Group, parent company of Zippers Restaurants, are now on site after the 15 year lease was formally signed on Friday 18 June.

During May the Council has been completing interior work to upgrade services and separate access between the Upper and Lower Guildhall areas. While this work continues, the new occupiers of the ground floor are now starting the fit-out which will see the transformation of the space in the Lower Guildhall ready for a late summer opening.

Council Leader, Ian Carr, said: “The Richoux Group has been established for over 100 years and is famous for its prestigious London restaurants. “There is also a newly-opened flagship Zippers venue at Chatham Quay in Kent, planned to be the first of an exciting new chain. “Zippers is a family orientated restaurant with a wide range of food on offer that will bring an excellent restaurant to Andover. “It will really add something to the town centre and will fit well with our plans for further enhancements to the Lower High Street to boost the town centre economy.”

Salvatore Diliberto of the Richoux Group said: “We are pleased to contribute to the refurbishment of this iconic building.

“Zippers restaurants are spacious, stylish and contemporary, with a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

“The varied menu will suit all occasions and budgets and we hope Zippers will prove as popular in Andover as it has in Chatham Quay, where the restaurant is regularly fully booked.”