A big-name brand has been linked with the site of a former restaurant on the outskirts of Darlington, as developers start work on the empty unit. 

On Tuesday (January 30), workers were spotted on the site of the old Akbar Dynasty and Tulip restaurants on the A66, near Sadberge, next to the Esso garage. 

After becoming Tulip Indian Restaurant in June 2022, the venue closed last year - with the restaurant not officially releasing a statement on closure. 

The Northern Echo: The former Tulip Restaurant on the A66 near SadbergeThe former Tulip Restaurant on the A66 near Sadberge (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

However, now that HGVs and building materials have been spotted on the site recently, it has led to suggestions about what it could become now it's finished its time as an Indian restaurant. 

In images taken on Tuesday, workers can be seen ripping parts of the edge of the building and preparing a 'drive-thru' section of the site. 

The Northern Echo: Elevations in the plans that are linked to the Starbucks siteElevations in the plans that are linked to the Starbucks site (Image: PLANNING)

Before building work started, the venue had a controversial past under Akbar Dynasty, which saw it have its licence revoked in April 2021 - due to employing illegal workers. 

But now it is set to become a new use entirely after plans were submitted for a Drive Thru Coffee Shop on the A66 site, which will see a pay window, indoor seating, and removal of some previous items that were used in its previous Indian restaurant use. 

The Northern Echo: Workers on the site near to DarlingtonWorkers on the site near to Darlington (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

The plans, which were submitted to Darlington Borough Council at the end of last year, also sought to change its opening hours to 5.30am to 11pm daily.

At the start of 2024, those plans were approved with several conditions. 

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While no name was linked to the planning application, beyond the WardmanBrown as architects and Cliff Court Developments Ltd as applicants. 

The Northern Echo understands that it's Starbucks who are linked with the site in question. 

Starbucks has been contacted for a comment regarding the A66 Sadberge site.