The Chesterford Group (TCG) has completed on a new site in Eastbourne, East Sussex, which could see Churchill’s Fish & Chips come together with the company’s two virtual brands, Serial Griller and Chicken Punk.
The 1,800 sq ft site is within the recently modernised Langney Shopping Centre, which is also home to Costa Coffee, Domino’s, Tesco and Boots.
Commenting on the location, TCG managing director Paul Goodgame comments: “We wouldn’t normally go into shopping centres, it’s not really our market, but the difference with this one is that it’s in the middle of one the most densely populated housing estates in Eastbourne, so it fits well with us.
“There are also a couple of other units that are open late hours and it’s got some local amenities within it, so it’s not your traditional shopping centre that will close up by 5 or 6 o’clock. It ticks all the boxes for us.”
The new site won’t open until next year, affording the group time assess the market and weigh up how to best use the space. While Churchill’s Fish & Chips will definitely feature, room for a 60-seater restaurant might instead be used to give a physical presence to its two virtual brands.
Serial Griller was launched last year, specialising in grilled and BBQ food, while Chicken Punk is its latest concept, serving wings, burgers, tenders and boneless chicken. Both are delivery only models.
Paul adds: “With things the way they are right now, with the emergence of our virtual brands, and the success we’ve had with Serial Griller, we’re thinking do we use that extra space to give a physical presence for Serial Griller and Chicken Punk?
“The nature of the site means there’s no reason why we can’t have two or even three brands in a physical presence and delivery available for all three of them as well. We’re describing it at the moment as more of a 'light-kitchen'.
“But we’re not in a rush to open, we’ve got a while to work things out. Like many businesses our priority is to get our finances back to a position they were in pre covid-19, which I’m hoping will be in about the next three to four months. We’ll use that time to see what brand model will work, to see what this new “normal” will look like and weigh up the value of having a restaurant if we have to implement social distancing.”
TCG is open to the idea of taking on further sites over the coming months, with Paul adding: “It’s a tenant’s market. Even with finances not being quite ready to open, you can go out there and grab some bargains and then when you are ready you can open them up.
“We’ve certainly got our eyes open to the huge number of vacant sites that will be coming up soon and we’ll be weighing up the opportunities over the next six months to a year.”