Agriculture and Food
Vickery shimmies his way past pandemic pitfalls to secure restaurant opening
Not the easiest of businesses to get right at the best of times, former rugby player Phil Vickery’s move into the restaurant trade could not have come at a more testing period.
Mr Vickery, not normally known for quick side-stepping (even when in peak form on the rugby field for England, Gloucester, and the British Lions) has proved nimble – and as an unflinching as old foes may remember him.
When the lockdown hit plans of a launch of his Cheltenham restaurant - aptly named No 3 (his old shirt number, for non-rugby fans) - his famous determination kicked in and adamant the business would open, it became a takeaway almost overnight.
That was back in May.
Now the restaurant proper is open – and the heat to perform is on him again, not least because his other accolade brings with it a certain amount of expectations. That being his triumph in television’s Celebrity MasterChefack in 2011.
Mr Vickery told The Caterer: “Cheltenham and the wider area has a fantastic food scene and it's one I've been looking to get into for some time. For years, people have been asking me what I'm planning to do next.
"Having had many conversations and ideas, it seemed that, last year, the stars were aligning and I was presented with the opportunity to form a series of perfect partnerships, including a brilliant team and suppliers, as well as getting the right landlord on board.”
Then came Covid-19 looking to scupper his plans.
"Not wanting to set all the hard preparation work aside, I was determined to continue. So, putting fresh plans in place and implementing them over the past few weeks, we're now in a position to launch No 3 as a collection service, providing people with access to high-quality food at no risk to themselves,” he said.
That local supplier being a Gloucestershire family firm he has strong links with, one Creed Foodservice, and the kitchens he used for his takeaway during the last few weeks – those at Brickhampton Golf Club, also owned by the Creed family.
And now, determined to take control of the situation (some habits die hard, it seems) Mr Vickery has opened the doors to his new restaurant at the former Star Bistro premises in Royal Crescent.
Back of house will be chef Tom Rains his wife Jules, with Elliott Camm appointed restaurant manager.
When fully open No 3 will boast 26 covers inside with another 12 spaces available outside and two private dining rooms planned for upstairs.
Those who fell in love with his upmarket takeaway service need fear not. It remains on the menu for the foreseeable as, like many other businesses in the sector, it seeks to exploit any avenue it can.
First published July 22.