Beak Brewery plans street food market venue in Brighton

Beak Brewery has plans to open a high quality independent street food market venue in the heart of Brighton.

The brewery, located in the neighbouring East Sussex town of Lewes, has filed a licensing application for 47 Trafalgar Street, the former car hire garage next to the Prince Albert pub based in the North Laine.

Speaking exclusively to the drinks business, Beak Brewery founder and former food and drink writer Daniel Tapper said that the plan is to create a street food market venue with “communal seating for 250 along with food counters and four kitchens”.

Beak Brewery, founded by Tapper has, until now, only been based in Lewes in East Sussex where it already runs a taproom and an award-winning street-food canteen. The brewery is best known for its hop-forward IPAs and has also established a mixed-fermentation project which showcases seasonal ingredients sourced from the neighboring South Downs National Park.

Giving a little more information about the project, Tapper told db: “The founding ethos for Beak was to create a brewery for people who love food. We had an opportunity to explore that at the Lewes taproom and we have always wanted to open a second venue and have been looking for a long time.”

Tapper explained that “almost a year ago I noticed the building next to the Prince Albert pub. It was a 5,000 square foot warehouse and the freehold was for sale. I looked into it and found out that the plans were to demolish it and build a block of offices with potential residential use apartments on the top floor”.

However, following “a meeting with the owners to view it” Tapper said that he then met with Tim Greatrex “who did the Vans skate park and store in Waterloo which was designed in tandem with Lewes-based Peter Hellicar” and together they drew up some plans for how a community street food venue could look as an alternative.

Tapper revealed: “We pitched it to the owners and, because previous plans had been unpopular with local people, we worked hard to instead create something that would assist the food and drink scene of Brighton and work well as an inclusive space for the local community and be useful to its residents.”

According to Tapper, the venue plans would mean that the enclosed indoor space would work well for daytimes for residents and locals too as well as community groups and have “four kitchens and a speciality coffee concession with really good baked goods and 15 keg lines of brewery-fresh Beak beer as well as offer other craft beer brands and low intervention wine and cider”.

He explained: “We are not making a massive bar, but this is about high quality food and drink from local independent craft producers and the entire space will be 100% seated.”

Tapper highlighted how the inspiration for the venue comes from Italy, noting how he has an Italian wife and has lived in Tuscany but has always thought of the local food market scenes of “Florence, Vienna and San Sebastian were wonderful spaces” and pointed out that, “in these areas, the food is just as important as the drink”.

He observed that the space would be much “smaller than Shelter Hall” [the street food spot based on Brighton seafront], but would still be “perfectly-formed” and admitted that he was “already speaking to chefs who were the best in their class”.

With plan is for opening in the day as well as evenings, he said that he hoped that the site would make a welcoming space that could be used by freelancers and local groups, and even include a running and local cycling club for residents to join and reiterated that this would be “an inclusive community space amd food market for everyone” and not be open to hen or stag parties, noting that he was well aware of wanting to create something more conscientious and useful to residents.

Tapper told db: “We have been really transparent about our plans. We are not a faceless corporation, From the start we have been meeting people and speaking to local residents, some of whom had been cautious and had let us know their concerns but we are very happy to sit and speak one-to-one with them, the local ward, the local police and the North Laine community because we think it is important to get this right and make sure this is something that the community feels they want.”

He added: “In our application I put around 30-40 ways we could comply with the cumulative impact zone and now I have suggested five or six extensive new adaptations for that as suggestions for ways we can make this a better project for locals. I’m also happy with the licence to end with our business, so if we left the venue it would mean another vender like Wetherspoons couldn’t just come in and use it. Instead, any new proposal would need to be agreed. I think that it is important for the local community to feel reassured. For instance, we would have bouncers on match days and want people to know we are not the kind of venue that would be showing regular sports events.”

Tapper revealed: “If things go to plan, then we will be signing the lease in around May-June 2024 with a three to four month fit-out scheduled and a late autumn opening”. He also noted that the space will “be a really good all-season venue as it is all indoors and will be super cosy” because he knows that “when it is sunny people go straight to the beach in Brighton, but this would be great for winter too and give people another place to be”.

Describing the business plan, he said that the aim was for Beak to not charge rent to any of the chefs and “only charge commission so that there are no start-up costs”. This would be in an effort to allow the best local chefs to have a platform that requires “no capital to start up” which he pointed out would be a nice antithesis “to sky-high rents otherwise found in Brighton” that he believed held many excellent chefs and vendors in the area back.

He added: “You won’t see any big brands in there and we won’t allow any chains, just high-end honest local food owned by independents”.

Lastly, Tapper stated: “We are not a massive brewery. But I really love Brighton and the North Laine area. The whole reason people visit it is to see independent businesses and people doing their own thing. This is what makes the area truly special and vibrant, I don’t want that to change. I want to work with that ethos. Plus, he added: “We would also be providing 28 living wage accredited jobs for people at the venue” and explained: “Really, we just want to support the area and showcase what makes it great as much as possible”.

This article originally appeared on the drinks business.

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