A BOWLING club in north Durham has widened its appeal within the community by opening an Italian restaurant.

Colino’s and Simone’s is serving authentic Mediterranean cuisine at Stanley Indoor Bowls Centre at the top of Front Street in Stanley.

The club, which hosts international tournaments and has one of the best playing surfaces in the country, hopes the venture will encourage more people to use the facilities and attract more members.

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Club president Brian Harris, 66, a national bowls champion, from Washington, said: “We want to offer something that will bring more people into the club to see what we have here and the fantastic facilities on offer.

“There is nothing else like this in Stanley or the surrounding area.

“If the quality of the food continues to be as good as I have tasted so far it is going to be a success and is just going to enhance our reputation further.”

The club is above the Asda store in the town and the idea came following a chance meeting between Mr Harris and restaurateur Simone Nirta, 40, who is from Calabria in Italy.

Mr Nirta, who ran a cafe in Tanfield Lea before it closed last year, is offering three course meals for under £5 as well as a takeway service.

It is open for breakfast from 9am, with lunches and main meals served 11.30am-6.30pm along with traditional Sunday lunches served from 12pm-3pm.

He said: “This is a family restaurant where everyone is welcome and we make a special effort to look after the children well. Our menu is made up of all authentic recipes with top quality ingredients.

“I have always wanted to open somewhere in either Consett or Stanley and when the opportunity arose I thought we would take a chance.”

Durham County Councillor Carl Marshall, who is also a director of the club, said the restaurant would offer people in the town a new place to get a good meal throughout the day and could create around five jobs.

If it is successful, the owners, Mr Nirta and Colin Edwards will be looking to employ kitchen, waiting and bar staff.

Coun Marshall said: “It is something different and has come about with private funding as they are leasing space from the bowls club, which is making it more sustainable.

“It will attract more people to come and see for themselves as well as giving job opportunities to young people in the town.”

For more information call 0773-694-3667.