Giant new street food market plans for an old movie theater that could hold hundreds of foodies

An Ayrshire businessman says he’s risking his own neck to transform one of Kilmarnock’s most iconic ruins into a trendy food market.

Rishi Magon is preparing to shell out his own money to radically refurbish the dangerous old town center cinema to the tune of up to £300,000.

Left to rot for decades, the monstrous structure could once again become a thriving business if proposals to turn Titchfield Street into a food hub are given the green light.

Grand plans would see the lower floor of the listed building renovated to accommodate 10 street food merchants, a bar, and enough seating for 200 foodies.

Dubbed the King’s Court, Rishi’s firm has owned the building since 1999 and after many, many false dawns, considers this new proposal the best hope the old structure has had since it stopped showing movies.

“We would be delighted to get it up and running,” Rishi told Ayrshire Live. “It is a beautiful building and it is a shame that it ended up in such a state.

“We’re looking at at least a £200,000 to £300,000 investment at the moment. Building costs have skyrocketed during Covid, so our budget is getting tighter. And because it’s a building at risk, we’ve had problems for funding so this is pretty much all I’m using so I’m putting my personal neck on the line here.

“This use seems more practical and since there is nothing like it in the area, we are sure it will eventually be a business.”

The cinema has been empty for decades.
The cinema has been empty for decades.

With a background in property and retail, the Kilwinning native is determined to make the new plan work.

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And the finished product could end up resembling popular Glasgow street food markets such as The Dockyard Social, The Big Feed and Platform, and could prove to be a huge draw for the city and the Ayrshire region.

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False starts have seen numerous dream ideas for the desolate old ABC theater, but none have yet to materialize.

“I used to do street food before lockdown and there are some street food markets in and around Glasgow,” Rishi added.

“I’ve owned that building for a while and we’ve been fighting for a potential use for the building for years and I thought there’s nothing like a food market in this area.

Rishi Magon has big plans for the old Kilmarnock cinema
Rishi Magon has big plans for the old Kilmarnock cinema

“We’ve had it since 1999 and we’ve had a lot of unsuccessful talks with the council over that time – either to restore it or the council was looking to buy it multiple times and that fell through.”

If the plans are approved, the food market would initially operate on weekends in hopes of drawing a larger audience to the city.

Rishi said: “We have provisions for at least 10 food merchants and a bar with a capacity of 200 people on the ground floor.

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“We have someone who makes Indian sandwiches and we also have a wood-fired pizza maker.

“We haven’t really been advertising it because we’re still in the planning process. We have been working very closely with the planning department because it is a listed building.

“We are changing vendors every month and the benefit is that we can offer a new range of food for people in Kilmarnock and those coming from outside the area.

“When we initially start it will run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and we’ll see what the response is like.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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