Pub Chef Opinion: Developing a concept for the high street

By Harry Kodagoda

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Potato, Restaurant, Main street

Pub Chef Opinion: Developing a concept for the high street
The latest acquisition by Anglian Country Inns saw the refurbishment of the Hermitage Ballroom in the market town of Hitchin, Herts. Considering the town-centre location and size of the site, we knew we had to compete with chains such as Zizzi, Strada and Prezzo already saturating the high street.

Knowing your target market is the foundation of a food concept. What are the core values diners are looking for? What can we offer that our competitors don’t — our unique selling point (USP), if you like. What sort of people are going out? What do they perceive as value and what is their average spend per head?

Once we answered these questions we looked at our USP. As far as we were concerned, we had several. We had the building’s aesthetics with high ceilings and beech sprung flooring. The 6,000sq ft space meant we could design with our needs in mind. We invested well over £100,000 in an open kitchen to create a sense of theatre for our diners. We also invested in a modern bar space with a wall-mounted wine rack and sliding library ladder.

The other area where we could stand out from the competition is our passion for fresh food and great service. We set about looking within our existing business to appoint key positions organically.

This worked out well as the general manager, assistant general manager, head chef, restaurant manager and coffee-shop manager all came from within the company.

With these key personnel in place we worked on the food offer and style of service. The concept in words was ‘premium casual dining in a contemporary bar and restaurant’.

The 150-seat restaurant had to have a food offer that was simple and quick to produce with an emphasis on quality and value. The drinks offer had to be a premium bar with some simple cocktails done well and an affordable wine list with the option to trade up.

One of the key aspects of dining at Hermitage Road is our sharing concept. Dishes such as our charcuterie, seafood and vegetarian boards to share are very popular. Our Sunday concept of ‘host a roast’ is a great option for large parties and families alike.

One of the guests plays dad by carving the joint and serving dishes of fresh vegetables, duck fat roast potatoes and jugs of gravy. Other freshly prepared dishes include carpaccio of beef, sweet potato crisps, honey & rosemary vinaigrette, and char grilled whole king prawns, couscous & chorizo salad, chimichurri sauce.  

Our competitively priced menu, together with good service and the ambience, has enabled us to build a great following among the diners of Hitchin and the surrounding area, and we are holding our own among the high-street chain restaurants.

  • Harry Kodagoda is director of food for Anglian Country Inns

Related topics: Chefs

1 comment


Posted by Tom Ormrod,

Good to see you going from strength to strength
So pleased for you
Have you heard that Tristan is coming back to the UK and going to Cambridge
Tom Ormrod

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