Small Batch Coffee at myhotel
Sussex to the core: the Wobblegate story
Steve Green of foodie website devoursussex.com
meets Tom Stephens from the award-winning Wobblegate...
The Devil is in the Detail
Paul Nicholson of Brighton-based Chalk Architecture gives five tips for top restaurant design...
1. Have a big idea for the interior that relates to your Brand/F&B concept
Whether a single venue restaurant business or a high st brand, creating an interior look that is welcoming, comfortable and stylish will boost your popularity with your intended customer. Think of design in terms of telling a story: there is a story for the name you have chosen for the restaurant, there is a story for the cuisine you have chosen to create. Having story behind why the interior looks the way it does is equally important. If all the stories of your business have some sort of link between them, then you will have created a strong brand.
2. Chair design choice
Sounds simple, but don’t leave this decision till the last minute and try to devote as much budget to it as you dare. Your chairs are the fulcrum of the customer experience. Comfort, style and durability are the key criterion. A bespoke designed solution is also worth exploring, Sussex has plenty of talented designers and fabricators that can help. Banquette or bench seating is a comfortable touch though it can use up space quite quickly. Upholstery details like buttoning and cross stitching can add a trad’ luxury feel.
3. Don’t skimp on your cloakroom decorations – people always remember a well designed WC
Walking into a restaurant WC that looks like it hasn’t been touched since the 70’s is a big no-no. Simple touches can elevate the lowly loo. Try looking at architectural salvage websites for old butler sinks, Victorian cisterns and random large art objects. Wall to wall tiles can give a monolithic boutiquey feel or keep it restrained with Farrow and Ball paint – Farrow Ball offer a paint colour advisory service in the store by Palmeira Sq, Hove. Definitely worth a chat if you need a quick steer in the right direction.
With the advent of the LED light, creating the right mood in your restaurant using artificial light has got a little bit more complicated. If you only use one professional designer on your restaurant, a talented lighting designer could be money well spent and make a big difference. LED lights come in different colours and different temperatures; you could stick with the same light and lamp through out, though this might be a bit boring! Get an array of different fittings and you could end up creating a kaleidoscope and have to set aside a whole cupboard to store all you spare lamps! Think signature set piece lighting over bars and matire d’ or waiter stations, twinkly, dimmable lighting in the seating area and maybe some concealed lighting behind dressers or banquette seating to create a theatrical back drop.
5. Table settings
The final touches – glasses, napkins, menus and the like – are the hero or zero moment for the stylish interior. Keep it really simple or source the pieces from a good lifestyle store or website. This goes for the menu holder as well, a simple, folded, good quality paper with elegant graphics that gets the message over of how amazing your food offer is often as far as you need to go.
Chalk Architecture is a multi-disciplinary design practice creating innovative and successful Interior, Architecture and Branding Design solutions for clients based in the UK, Europe the Far East. Working closely with local and international collaborators the Chalk team provide a client focused service and are dedicated to delivering creative and dynamic designs for hospitality, retail and residential projects, large or small. Visit chalkarchitecture.com
When the supermarkets began to gain dominance during the nineties, selling cheap imported apple varieties such as the Granny Smith, it signaled tough times ahead for English apple producers, as demand for our native fruit plummeted.
With the English apple market in ruins, Tom Stephens (27) dream of one day taking over his family’s fruit farm in West Sussex, looked like being a distant reality. After completing his degree in London, Tom was faced with the prospect of having to get a “proper job”, deciding instead to forgo a career in the city to return to Bolney and fulfill his destiny.
Jump forward four years andTom has transformed the fortunes of his family’s 40-acre orchard, creating an exceptional range of apple juice which is putting the Old Mill Fruit farm back on the map. “I always wanted to do something with the farm, I love cooking and wanted to be a chef, plus I love apple juice and cider, so it seemed like a good fit”, explains Tom.
Named after an area of the orchard which is has a wobbly gate, Tom’s Wobblegate brand uses organic English apples to produce a range of nine bottled juice products. These include single varieties such as the Cox, Discovery or Russet, alongside blended juices which include Wobblegate’s flagship Cox and Bramley drink, which Tom proudly describes as being “As English and an apple juice can get.”
The Stephen’s family have been growing fruit and producing apple products in Bolney for over a hundred years, passing the heritage and apple growing expertise down the family line. As a result, Tom’s juice is produced using the traditional hand pressed method, from fruit picked at the very peak of its ripeness, delivering juice which is simply bursting with natural sweetness.
The last twelve months have been something of a vintage year for Wobblegate, which has not only enjoyed a bumper crop, but has also seen its juice products begin to receive critical and commercial acclaim. Its Cox & Bramley, and single Bramley juices both received a single star at last years Great Taste Awards, and in January 2012 Wobblegate was crowned ‘Best Drink Producer of the Year’ at the prestigious Sussex Food & Drink Awards.
It was receiving the Great Taste awards last year that finally gave Wobblegate the springboard it needed to raise awareness of its apple juice beyond the local markets and pubs of Bolney. After winning the awards, Tom’s girlfriend cobbled together a press release which she sent to the local media, resulting in the first press story about the business.
Shortly after, Wobblegate exhibited at the Glynde Food & Drink Festival, where Tom was shocked by the sudden awareness and demand for his products, selling his entire stock with two hours to spare. At this point, he began to believe that his Wobblegate business might actually go on to achieve something.
The recent success of Wobblegate is attributed solely to the hard work and dedication of its founder Tom, who has barely taken a day off in four years, “I’ve had to call on a lot of help from family and friends to get the business to where it is”, he recounts.
With only limited funds at his disposal, he has had to do everything on the cheap, which has meant designing the packaging and website himself, rebuilding the family farm shop and handling all the sales and promotion activity. This is all on top of having to pick, grade, press and bottle the products and deliver them to his customers across Sussex.
With Tom’s hard work beginning to pay off, 2012 already looks set to be another vintage year for the business. On top of producing a record 100,000 bottles of apple juice, Wobblegate is set to launch its first cider, as soon as its license to sell through the farm shop has been received. Already one of the most anticipated product launches of the food and drink year, it looks like Tom might well be ready for a well earned day off.
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