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Historic Barbican building is being transformed into a ‘healthy living’ restaurant

A new ‘healthy living’ restaurant has been confirmed for an historic Plymouth building.

Bonne Santé, which literally translates as ‘healthy’ from French, will be opening within the former Customs House on the Barbican.

No opening date has yet been confirmed for the new eatery, which describes itself as a ‘lean café/kitchen’, but in a Facebook post it says it will be serving up healthy breakfasts, mains, high protein treats and skinny cocktails.

The post says: ‘Coming very soon to Plymouth, UK. Bonne Santé. Lean Café.kitchen.

‘Where your good health ‘Bonne Santé’, clean appetite, relaxation socialising, is our #1 priority!

‘With our range of; Delicious, lean GF breakfast, Stunning, healthy mains, High protein GF baked treats, Skinny cocktails, Fresh power smoothies, Organic healthy hot drinks, And much more!

‘Follow us for here, for our latest updates, including our official opening date and opening offers.’

An alcohol license was granted for The Customs House, partly built by French prisoners of war in the 19th century, in October last year.

But secrecy surrounded what would actually be opening up within the historic premises.

The license, applied for by CHP Plymouth, which has links to The Dome restaurant, will be in place from 7am – midnight each day.

Owner of the historic building, Essy Kamaie, was keeping tight-lipped about what it would become at the time.

The grandest part of the 200-year-old property needs a business to fill its interior

The grandest part of the 200-year-old property needed a business to fill its interior
(Image: Penny Cross)

“Nothing has been finalised,” he said in October, “but we have just been granted an alcohol license.”

Part of the building has already been converted into four high-end apartments, but the grandest part of the 200-year-old property needed a business to fill its majestic interior.

“I think this building deserves to be brought back to life,” Mr Kamaie told The Herald on an exclusive tour of the building in November 2016.

“It is still in good condition and I think it is the best building on the Barbican.”

The granite building was built over a number of years and was completed in 1820.

It was known as the New Custom House, and, until 2010, enjoyed 190 years’ unbroken service as an Excise building.

The owner thinks it is the best building on the Barbican

The owner thinks it is the best building on the Barbican
(Image: Penny Cross)

But after HM Revenue and Customs and the UK Borders Agency moved, it has remained unused.

The imposing facade remains much as it was, and the decorative crest has remained in place reading God and my right – the motto of the British monarch.

The building’s dramatic architecture reflects Plymouth’s historic status as the main merchant port of the region.

And the original jail cells are still intact alongside an open-air courtyard with a glass atrium running along its right-hand side.

Bonne Santé has been approached for more information.

Time Line

Custom House: History


  1. Early 19th century

    The Custom House was built over a number of years, partly by French prisoners of war.


  2. 1820

    It was completed in 1820. Its imposing architecture was designed to reflect Plymouth’s historic status as the main merchant port of the region.


  3. 1990s

    HMRC sold Custom House and began renting it back from landlords Mapeley.


  4. 2010

    The Grade II* listed granite building was known as the New Custom House and occupied by the Excise for 190 years. Customs officers left the building after maintaining a presence on the Barbican for more than 500 years.


  5. 2012

    The building was put up for sale, and bought by property magnate Essy Kamaie in January 2012.

Article source: https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink/healthy-restaurant-serving-skinny-cocktails-1330680

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