Until now entry to the Grade II listed building on Fenkle Street has been limited to those attending private parties and conferences, but now Antony Michaelides wants to turn it into a venue that will be open to a wider demographic.
Under the £1m development plans, Michaelides will transform the building's Lower Ballroom, Sovereign Suite and courtyard into a restaurant, entertainment lounge, VIP club and alfresco dining area called Bonbar.
When complete, the venue, which is fast approaching its 240th birthday, will have a capacity of 700 and is expected to create up to 50 new jobs as well as provide a new purpose for the building.
“When the Assembly Rooms opened it was a community space where the public of Newcastle could come and read the newspapers of the day, play cards, relax in a reading room, drink coffee, gossip and dine and dance," said Michaelides.
“That had all been lost and now we want to return to those heady days in the 18th and early 19th centuries where the Assembly Rooms was this wonderful space open to all and the place to go and be seen.
“My dream is to once again turn the Assembly Rooms into a flagship leisure destination for Newcastle and beyond.”
The Assembly Rooms, which have been owned by the Michaelides family since 1974, were previously home to a members' only casino as well as banqueting and conference facilities.
Bonbar will open seven days a week from mid-morning through to 4am on selected nights and serve lunch, afternoon tea and dinner as well as offer late-night drinking and entertainment.
While the developed space will still offer banqueting and conference facilities, Michaelides, who is working with marketing consultants DDCA to create 'a cool and contemporary space' that pays homage to its past said his plan was to make it multi-purpose and above all 'get people socialising'
He said: “We are delivering something on a scale that hasn’t been seen in Newcastle for some time and something the city desperately needs. Hopefully this will be a venue that will be strong enough to keep people in the town day and night.
“We are retaining the original features, and indeed reinstating many to public view.
“This is a new chapter in the Assembly Rooms’ long history and it’s a new chapter in my life. I am getting the chance to create something unique in Newcastle and doing it right, which as a family we have always prided ourselves on.
“I have long thought it was a crime not to be using this building for the intention for which it was built, which is to get people socialising in person.
“Bonbar will breathe new life into what is a uniquely important venue.”