Sustainability - and great veggie food on the menu at new Stamford restaurant
A new restaurant with a plant-based menu has welcomed its first sit-down customers.
And the success of the opening night is the latest step for Jo Kemp and her business borne out of a lockdown experiment.
Blonde Beet opened its doors on St Paul’s Street, Stamford at the beginning of June, with the takeaway coffee and salad bar on the ground floor bolstered by a delightful courtyard.
The conversion of the upstairs to seat 25-30 diners comfortably was completed in time for last Friday’s first sitting - a milestone in an incredible 16 month journey .
The sustainability professional said: “I took redundancy about six months before the whole lockdown thing started, the thinking being it might provide me an opportunity to play with this idea of a food business.
“Just before lockdown I did a couple of bistro nights at home to test things out and maybe go down that supper club route.”
Coronavirus restrictions soon put an end to the idea of groups of people coming together to eat so Jo moved into the realm of doing takeaways from home, which went very well.
“Without testing the theory and having the time though lockdown to do it I would not have been brave enough to take the next step,” she added. “It reached the point where it was not sustainable to keep doing it from home and if I was going to do it, now was the time.”
At the start of the year the search led to the delightful former beauty salon, which Jo says needed quite a bit of love - and time - to turn it from an empty but beautiful 17th century building into something “intimate and special”.
While the ethos of Blonde Beet is affordable sustainability and cooking great vegetarian and vegan dishes, Jo is keen to stress that her doors remain open to anyone.
“We have a lovely space here and we want it to be open and inviting to everyone,” she said.
“I would say 50 per cent of our customers are omnivorous - but lots of people want to try something a bit different and are keen to try what we have to offer. It is great to be preaching to a wider audience, getting people talking and thinking about sustainable food and trying something new .
“I try not to use the word vegan when it comes to the restaurant as it sometimes has challenging connotations and I do not want to close the door to anyone.
“For instance, we use oat milk as standard but will offer locally sourced dairy milk if that is what a customer prefers.
“And if an ethically sourced cheese supplier wanted to work with us it might be possible to do that.”
Blonde Beet opens 9am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday, and Friday evenings.