Cotswold Life

Spark of genius

Coro­n­avirus meant that Jak and Sam of The Up­ton Fire­house had to com­pletely re­think their busi­ness model, but re­think they did, and now their hard work and cre­ative think­ing is start­ing to pay div­i­dends

- Www.the­up­ton­fire­ Food · Recreation · Restaurants · Dining Out · Paris · Cotswolds · C.W. Anderson · Sapperton

The Kings Head ho­tel in Cirences­ter has re­cruited a new food and bev­er­age man­ager with 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing stints at sev­eral top Cotswold pubs and restau­rants.

Chris Wright, who most re­cently worked at The Bell at Sap­per­ton and The Five Alls at Filkins, brings his pas­sion for ser­vice and wine knowl­edge to the Kings Head, as well as the ad­ja­cent MBB Brasserie and the Corn Hall Deli. The ho­tel menu has been re­vamped to in­clude dishes such as a Goan fish curry, a clas­sic rib-eye steak with café de Paris but­ter and a gar­den beet­root risotto. Chris says, “The Kings Head is now linked to the brasserie via a small walk-through so we are hop­ing that across the var­i­ous spa­ces we have, we can cre­ate some­thing dif­fer­ent and unique for guests. We also have the ter­race in the sum­mer and I re­ally want to make more of this.” www.king­shead-ho­

The long-term im­pact of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic was first felt at The Up­ton Fire­house on Mother’s Day. Trade had al­ready started to drop off in March due to Covid-19, but the Bur­ford bar­be­cue and grill restau­rant had to close just be­fore what is nor­mally one of the busiest week­ends of the year for hos­pi­tal­ity.

“We had over 500 peo­ple booked in for the Mother’s Day week­end but we had to vir­tu­ally close our doors overnight be­cause of lock­down,” says co-owner Jak Doggett, who runs the busi­ness with fel­low chef Sam Ed­wards.

With staff fur­loughed through­out the clo­sure, the pair had to set about chang­ing the en­tire busi­ness model of their restau­rant and plan for the fu­ture.

“Once the lock­down was an­nounced, we had a cou­ple of days of clos­ing down our restau­rant then all our staff were fur­loughed, which was a mas­sive help. We sim­ply would not have been able to survive with­out that scheme.”

Jak and Sam re­opened in May, of­fer­ing take­away piz­zas on Wed­nes­days and a bar­be­cue take­away on Fri­days. Both proved a suc­cess, thanks to sup­port from lo­cals and reg­u­lars, but as lock­down grad­u­ally eased, thoughts quickly turned to how to re­open the restau­rant safely for cus­tomers and staff.

New gov­ern­ment guide­lines meant the self-ser­vice, carvery-style ser­vice was the first thing to change, as well as open­ing times.

The buf­fet was the first to go due to so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules and in its place there’s now a set menu and a take­away op­tion.

Pre­vi­ously only open for lunch at the week­end, the newly re­named Sam & Jak at The Fire­house has be­come a break­fast

and lunch restau­rant, open Wed­nes­day through to Sun­day.

“Like so many busi­nesses, we’ve had to think about how we can adapt,” says Jak. “The drop in dis­tance from 2m to 1m+ has saved busi­nesses like ours and we have set up our ta­bles ac­cord­ingly.

“We have one of largest restau­rants in the Cotswolds and we have high ceil­ings and ven­ti­la­tion which makes so­cial dis­tanc­ing much eas­ier, but we have still re­duced the amount of ta­bles in­side and moved them out­side.”

The new menu in­cludes whole rack of smoked ribs with slaw fries and bar­be­cue sauce, Tam­worth pork chop with crushed pota­toes, pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli and Roque­fort but­ter, and wood-fired fish of the day with lo­cal tomato salad and crispy new pota­toes. The sig­na­ture Fire­house BBQ meat plat­ter is still avail­able, al­beit as a pre-plated ver­sion rather than served carvery-style.

Jak says, “We have had to com­pletely re­think our busi­ness model through­out the pan­demic, and it’s a big step for us to open more than be­fore but it has also given us a bit of time to re­vamp the restau­rant a bit.

“We will now be do­ing a week­ly­chang­ing wood-fired bar­be­cue menu us­ing great lo­cal pro­duce and take full ad­van­tage of all the great prod­ucts with are smoked on site at Up­ton Smok­ery. All of our dishes will also be avail­able for take­away.

“We were ner­vous about re­open­ing, but ex­cited at the same time. Our staff were happy to come back af­ter hav­ing about three months off work and we had to do ex­ten­sive staff train­ing to make sure ev­ery­one was safe while work­ing and keep­ing cus­tomers safe.

“The re­ac­tion has been good so far and we have seen lots of new faces com­ing in which is an early sign that our new for­mat is work­ing and that cus­tomers like it.”

 ??  ?? The Up­ton Fire­house
The Up­ton Fire­house
 ??  ?? Chris Wright
Chris Wright
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 ??  ?? The Up­ton Smok­ery
The Up­ton Smok­ery

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