ONE of Glasgow's oldest pubs, which has links to Frank Sinatra and Laurel and Hardy and an Italian restaurant institution are preparing to say a final farewell to customers after a 148-year history in the city.

The Iron Horse which dates from 1872 and O Sole Mio, Glasgow's oldest surviving Italian restaurant, which opened in 1965, will close their doors for the last time within the first few days of February, when their leases expire.

The pub and restaurant are among five businesses on the the corner of West Nile Street and Bath Street closing as plans progress for a new £30million multi-storey hotel.

Jennifer Brooks, who runs the Iron Horse and Djamel Benouari, spoke of their sadness at the loss of their livelihoods and two Glasgow institutions.

Read more: Glasgow pub, chippy and Italian institution facing demolition to make way for hotel

The Iron Horse was previously known as The Empire Bar, which served the theatre-goers and stars of the famous theatre of the same name around the corner. For the past few decades it has served as a 'city centre local' for Glaswegians and meeting point for the Tartan Army.

In its 55-year history O Sole Mio has been a popular haunt for celebrities including Billy Connolly and Old Firm footballers. Former Rangers and AC Milan player Gennaro Gattuso, now managing Napoli, met his wife Monica Romano in the restaurant while Lorenzo Amoruso was also a regular.

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George Capital, which now owns the block, is seeking permission to flatten the site, on the corner of West Nile Street and Bath Street, to make way for a hotel, that the developers say will create 100 new jobs.

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Djamel, 62, said: "We knew it was coming because the lease had not been renewed. But when the shutters come down, I'll be sad. The miracle I was hoping for didn't come."

More than 400 objections to the plan were lodged with the council while a petition created by the Iron Horse attracted more than 2,000 signatures with objections coming from as far as Azerbaijan and the U.S.

According to a council spokesman the hotel application is "working its way through the planning process."

Read more: Developer granted permission to demolish Trongate building

The Blue Lagoon fish and chip shop will also shut as well as a small beauty business and betting shop Paddy Power is already boarded up.

Jennifer Brooks took over the running of the Iron Horse in the 1990s with her father Eddie.

The former Empire Bar became the Iron Horse in the 1960s and after a couple of name changes in the 70s and 80s the pub re-opened with the existing name.

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Jennifer said the family is focussed on helping the venue's 12 staff find other jobs, while a Tartan Army farewell party is planned in the final weekend on February 1 and 2.

Jennifer said: "I've had elderly customers who say they saw Frank Sinatra in the Empire Theatre. There was a door in the theatre that backed onto the pub and the acts used to come in for a drink during intervals.

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"We just want to say goodbye to as many of our regulars as possible. The Tartan Army meet here and they are planning something for the final weekend.

"Our focus now is helping our staff, arranging training courses for them. We get a lot of veteran groups meeting here so we have also been trying to find them other places to meet."

Read more: Former STV site set for office block next to site of new hotel

Jennifer said her dad is planning to retire and she is considering opportunities.

Djamel, 62, bought over O Sole Mio from the original owners, the Romano family, exactly nine years ago yesterday (January 15, 2011) after a long and successful managerial career in Glasgow's hotel and restaurant industry that included stints in Dinos, The Arthouse Hotel (now Abode) Barca and Oran Mor.

Restaurant tycoon Mario Romano, died in 2011 at the age of 71 leaving a £4million fortune and is survived by his wife Pina, who sub-let the lease to Djamel.

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The new owner spent £70,000 refurbishing the restaurant, which boasted Scotland's first wood fired pizza oven. He said: "I used to tell people, just follow your nose and you will find us."

Tuesday night was spent contacting customers who had made bookings for later than February 1 ("the last supper") and Djamel is assisting the restaurant's 15 staff to find new jobs. Responses from loyal customers to the closure have included, "Where are we going to eat now?"

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He said: "It hasn't really sunk in that in three weeks time we won't be here. I know the Romano family are quite sad. It was the first venture of their father's.

"There are a lot of memories wrapped up in the restaurant. I hear stories everyday. 'I met my wife here, we got engaged here. I remember Lorenzo Amoruso in the kitchen showing us his new cook book. He now owns a restaurant in Italy.

Algerian-born Djamel moved to the UK in his early 20s to study a postgraduate course in marketing and learn English. He hopes to open a smaller business such as an Italian cafe at some point but also plans to take some time out to travel, go hill-walking and see friends and family. His partner passed away several months ago.

He said: "It's been very full on, the restaurant business runs your life. Your sleep with it, wake up with it seven nights a week. It will be nice to spend a bit of time with friends.

"It's very hard work, the competition is very tough. The market has changed a lot, people want everything faster, they don't spend a whole night in a restaurant. I'm looking for something smaller to ease myself into retirement."