It’s full steam ahead for the Engine Room!

One of Sunderland’s premier bar and bistro restaurants has now reopened to the public as the new Fire Station Auditorium races towards its opening date. 

Here’s everything you need to know now that The Engine Room is now open! 


The Engine Room Is Now Open!


Inside The Engine Room Sunderland


Located on the ground floor of The Fire Station, one of Sunderland’s most loved buildings, The Engine Room has become one the city’s most popular places to socialise since its redevelopment in 2017. 

Now with a new management team, it will deliver quality food and drinks once again in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

The reopening comes just ahead of the launch of the new Fire Station Auditorium, which brings a dazzling programme of music, theatre, comedy, and dance to the city from 10 December. 

The Engine Room is the perfect place to enjoy a preshow meal, aftershow drinks, to celebrate a special occasion or to meet friends and family for a night on the town.

Initially, The Engine Room will open on Wednesday to Saturday from 11.30am and from 12noon on a Sunday and the kitchen will deliver a quality food offer. 

The menu is designed by Pub Culture’s new Head Chef Matt Watkins, who returns to his native Sunderland after fourteen years working in some of North Yorkshire’s best-known restaurants and gastro pubs. 


A new offering for diners and drinkers… 

There is an ‘a la carte’ menu offering structured dining with starters, main courses, and desserts including British classics such as prawn and smoked salmon cocktail, or beer-battered fish and chips, and more contemporary bistro dishes such as Salt and Pepper Calamari with Chorizo Crumb or Thai Vegetable Curry as well as a full range of sandwiches and light bites for the not so hungry.

There is also be a pre-concert ‘Express Menu’ providing two or three courses at a set price and guaranteed swift service for those attending performances at the Auditorium or neighbouring Sunderland Empire.

Rhys McKinnell, the recently appointed CEO of Pub Culture which runs The Engine Room and neighbouring Dun Cow, brings with him a prestigious pedigree having previously been Director of Restaurants for the Fenwick Department Store Group where he was responsible for the development of their flagship Food Hall in Newcastle as well as the company’s 30 bars and restaurants group-wide.


‘The Engine Room will go from strength to strength’… 


The Engine Room Sunderland bar and bistro reopens to the public


Rhys said:

“I am absolutely delighted to join Pub Culture and be part of this exciting time of creativity in Sunderland. 

As the new Pub Culture leadership team, we’ve been working incredibly hard alongside our colleagues at The Music Arts and Culture Trust to prepare The Engine Room for reopening. 

With an exciting new food and beverage offer and online reservation system, The Engine Room will go from strength to strength as the premium hospitality and events destination for Wearside.” 


Paul Callaghan, Chair of the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust which has led the redevelopment of The Fire Station said:

 “The MAC Trust is delighted that The Engine Room is back. Since it opened in 2017 it has been one of the most vibrant and popular places in Sunderland to eat, drink and socialise. 

It provides a major income stream for the Trust and, as a charity, we’re extremely grateful to The Engine Room’s customers for their support that has helped us build The Fire Station Auditorium and so dramatically change this part of the city.”


Tamsin Austin, Director of The Fire Station said:

“We are absolutely delighted that The Engine Room is reopening and that we will have such a fabulous destination bar/bistro at The Fire Station when the new Auditorium opens this Christmas.

Good food and drink are such a key part of a great night out and we are delighted to be working with Pub Culture to provide that complete customer experience, whether that be pre-concert or pre-theatre dining in The Engine Room or interval drinks in our brand-new Foyer Bar! 

We look forward to welcoming everyone back.”


The Engine Room will be run by Stu Burnip, who will also manage neighbouring pub, The Dun Cow, and The Fire Station’s Auditorium Foyer Bar. 

Stu said: 

“I am hugely excited about the development of Sunderland’s cultural quarter and the fantastic opportunity that exists within the city. 

We have put together a great new product range including a bespoke cocktail and drinks menu to go with the range of draft ale and wine products that The Engine Room is already known for. 

With our exceptional hospitality team now recruited, trained and ready to go we are really looking forward to welcoming customers back.”


To make a reservation for The Engine Room visit: 


Will you be visiting now that The Fire Station is open? Get in touch online. Twitter: @SunderlandVibe, Instagram: @SunderlandVibe, Facebook: @SunderlandVibe.

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