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The brainchild of the brewery's new chief executive, Nigel Ridley, the project spanned multiple establishments, among them the former Dog and Bottle which was reborn as The Riverboat, a southern states-themed restaurant. For the Rovers, Nigel envisioned a northern theme, with high stools, chrome and sophistication. The ambitious scheme also included the space from 1 Coronation Street, with the brewery offering (anonymously) to buy the house from Deirdre Barlow. In the new layout, the living quarters were moved to Deirdre's old house, with the present accommodation turned into the Bronx bar and carvery. Extensive market research was carried out, coming out in favour of theme pubs, and an increase of 400% on the annual turnover was predicted.
In May of that year, two weeks before refurbishments were set to begin, Alec and Bet Gilroy were informed of the changes, while Deirdre was informed of the buyer's identity and met with Nigel Ridley, agreeing to sell No.1 for £35,000 - £10,000 above the asking price. The Gilroys resisted the new pub, believing that they wouldn't fit in and the current regulars would stop coming, and after turning down the tenancy of the dilapidated Quarryman's Rest, they took the only option open to them and shut up shop, drumming up support for them against the brewery both locally and in the media. Despite making the front page of the Gazette and giving an interview for Radio Weatherfield, their protests failed to make a difference and they were confined to the living quarters when the brewery reclaimed the pub, pending their eviction and the installation of a more co-operative manager. They were saved by Cecil Newton, Nigel's recently-retired predecessor who used his clout with the board to bring Nigel's theme pub scheme to a halt. The Rovers was therefore kept as it was, and Yankees never saw the light of day.