A LANDMARK building near Westcliff’s Palace Theatre is set to get a new lease of life – after standing empty for nearly a year.

The former Classic Brass shop, opposite the theatre, is to re-open as an Italian restaurant called Il Palazo, after two months of refurbishment.

Servet Kilic, whose family already run the Lemon Tree restaurant in Southchurch Road, Southend, the Olive Tree near the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff, and the Palm Tree in Leigh, is the man behind the new venture.

He said: “We will have an Italian menu, catering for people before and after shows at the Palace Theatre, but it will also be for local people to enjoy.

“It will be clean and modern, with a warm welcome for everyone.

“We are talking to builders at the moment. I’m expecting the work to take a couple of months but we hope to be open in the spring.”

The restaurant will have room for 60 diners. It has five parking spaces, but there are plans to provide more.

Classic Brass closed in February last year, after 35 years of selling ironmongery and doors.

The prominent site originally went on the market for £225,000.

It was later put up for auction but it failed to reach its reserve price.

Gerard Biagioni, of estate agent Dedman Gray Commercial, in Thorpe Bay, handled the sale to Mr Kilic, who bought the shop after getting planning permission to convert it into a restaurant from Southend Council.

Mr Biagioni said: “It’s a lovely building.

“It had been allowed to decay so it’s lovely to see such a nice building brought back and lovingly restored.”