Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure
Why a food revolution is being served up across the Cotswolds
Imagine some of the very best chefs, kitchen and catering teams from pubs, restaurants and cafes in one of Gloucestershire gastronomic hotspots swapping to running takeaways – and choosing their own menus.
Now tell me your mouth is not watering at the thought?
It is exactly what has happened, as the teams that usually man those quintessentially English gastro pubs, exquisite cafes and provide catering at our many events have had their hands forced by lockdown.
If you have trouble choosing from a single menu offering usually available at your usual curry house or Chinese, now you are really being spoilt.
We are, of course, talking up a growth sector driven not by choice on the part of the businesses but bynecessity which have rushed en mass through the only available door left open by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick allowing the hospitality to serve takeaway food and alcohol.
In 2019 it was a sector worth over £8 billion to the UK economy, but this year – thanks in no small part to the pandemic – that is expected to reach a record high.
Already through Mr Jenrick’s ‘open door’ and cooking on gas is The Relish Group – operators of The Gateway Café, Pizzeria 720°, and Waterside Kitchen & Bar at The Cotswolds Water Park, The Old Prison in Northleach, Sally Pussey’s Inn at Royal Wootton Bassett, Jack’s Kitchen and Tearooms and the pub Somewhere Else, both in Cirencester.
All of which have had to diversify due to the lockdowns and social distancing rules.
“The first lockdown meant we had to take a look at each of the businesses and decide whether to close temporarily or give them a new lease of life,” said Relish director Philippa Sawyer.
“Many of our venues provided a take away option already, but we recognized that felt we could grow this area of the business and expand it in line with the demand for take away coffee, cake and meals.
“Delivery has also now become so important in the world of hospitality. Here in the Cotswolds, Ciren Eats set the ball rolling during the first lockdown by setting up a delivery service throughout Cirencester and we have since been able to support a larger reach to cover deliveries around the Cotswold Waterpark and surrounding villages with our new scooter delivery service.
Pictured: Laura Stringer gets in the takeaway mood at Jacks
“We are offering a refreshed food and drinks menu operating from our sites at Jacks Cafe, Somewhere Else, Pizzeria 720° at The Gateway and Pit and Plate at the Waterside Kitchen and Bar.
“We are also providing hampers and food packages via Relish Online. The venues are offering all kinds of cuisine from Japanese, homemade pie and mash, brunch, designer pizza, packed burgers to Sunday roast with all the trimmings and everything in between.
“The government plans and people’s habits have changed due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns which is why you are seeing so much more takeaway food.
“People are realising that takeaway does not have to be junk food and can be a fine or relaxed family dining experience that does not cost the earth,” Philippa added.
Rob Goves is also a director of the company and said: “These venues are delighted to be able to continue to serve their regular and loyal following with their favourite dishes whilst introducing great quality, restaurant-style food to new customers.”
Pictured: The Firehouse, Upton, Sam Edwards and Jak Doggett
Over at The Firehouse at Upton and The Bathurst Arms in North Cerney, just outside of Cirencester, preparations were already in place
Jak Doggett, from The Firehouse, said: “We are more prepared for the second lockdown, we did take away pizza on Wednesday’s and we have expanded on this to do a take away set barbeque dinner on Friday night and you can pick up some of our Firehouse classics, great burgers, ribs and fresh salads on Saturday.
“Just before the second lockdown we had begun to do Sunday roasts and they were going down really well. So we have decided to do takeaway roasts and barbeque platters on Sunday as well.”
Jak’s business partner Sam Edwards added: “We understand why the government had to put us into a national lockdown despite the r rate being so low around this area.
“People still want that dining experience and so it is great that there is so much option in the Cotswolds, a takeaway is no longer just fish and chips or a good curry.”
Jordan Pelly only reopened the Bathurst Arms in North Cerney in late July. His team in the kitchen is led by chef Michal Wlodarcyk.
They are the first UK pub to awarded five prestigious stars for Organic Served Here by the Soil Association Certification and it is this accolade that has persuaded them to enter the takeaway market.
Jordan said: "We understand that in the current climate not everyone is comfortable eating out so we want to be able to create our dishes for you to take home and enjoy.
“With so many venues now offering take away food you have to be different and our offering is all organic. Where else could you get potato & onion pierogi or Kentucky fried pheasant tenders but the Bathurst Arms."
To order from TheRelish Group visit Relish Group and select either RELISH ONLINE for a wide range of nutritional, restaurant style cooked meals, afternoon tea hampers, deli items and desserts or Ciren Eats for the likes of signatures cakes from Jacks, divine burgers from Somewhere Else, fire-cooked mains from Waterside or family sized delights from Pizzeria 720°,
Opening hours and days are listed along with a full menu on each website.