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Inside Newcastle’s stunning new cocktail bar Pepo with secret entrance

We take a look inside new cocktail bar Pepo which has taken over the former Don Vitos venue in Newcastle city centre

A former Italian restaurant in the heart of Newcastle city centre has been transformed into a stylish cocktail bar after a hidden doorway was discovered.

Mike Hesketh, the owner of the popular bar and restaurant Horticulture on Market Street, is getting set to open a brand new venue called Pepo on Pilgrim Street this Saturday, August 6 from midday. It comes after the restaurant boss discovered that there was a secret entrance from Horticulture into the premises next door that had been covered up while looking at the plans of the building.

When the Don Vito’s premises came up for sale, he jumped at the chance to take over the space to launch Horticulture’s sister venue and was granted a licence variation from Newcastle Council. The new bar and eatery, which takes its name from a hard-shelled fruit with a soft centre, is set to delight cocktail lovers with its menu of fruity drinks carefully created by its team of mixology experts.

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Drinkers can also enjoy a range of hot and cold sharing boards in stylish surroundings that feature long wooden tables, exposed brick, dried flowers and modern lighting. A connecting doorway and staircase link Pepo and Horticulture, although both bars have separate entrances.

Mike has been delighted with the transformation of the venue and is looking forward to welcoming his first customers through the doors on Saturday.

“This is the former Don Vito’s premises on Pilgrim Street,” he said.

“We own Horticulture next door and found a secret door hidden between the walls and just decided, when the opportunity came up, to take over the premises and create a new ethos that is still attached to Horticulture.

“You can come to us for afternoon cocktails with friends, for a bite to eat, or use us as a late-night speakeasy kind of vibe. We are really keen for people to embrace sitting at the bar and speaking to the bartenders to find out what is the right cocktail for you.

“We are a fruit-focused cocktail place with food on the menu as well. We have our own independent Pornstar cocktail menu and a Pepo menu as well, which has different types of Pepos including Dragon Fruit.

“We are so glad to be open at last and hope people will come down and check us out.”

Pepo will be holding an invitation-only launch night on Friday, August 5, at 7pm that drinkers can sign up to via the Pepo website. The bar will officially open to the public on Saturday from midday until 2am and then the venue will be open from Wednesday to Sunday each week.

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