A brand new independent Bar/Restaurant is due to open in New Brighton in the coming weeks and it seems that it’s exactly what the people of The Wirral have been crying out for.
Blackberry Grove is the work of Joanna Aicher who got the keys eight weeks ago and has been working on it daily since – much to the delight of passers-by. With the double doors open and the team set to task, there hasn’t been a shortage of well-wishers dropping by.
“It’s been really lovely actually. Lots of people have popped in to ask what we’re doing, when we’ll be open or just to wish us luck. The chain restaurants can be nice and they obviously have their place, particularly down on the waterfront here in New Brighton, but I think something that this area is lacking is a bit of personality. It’s something I thought a long time ago, and it’s only been reiterated to me by the locals around here, there are very few independents that someone has put their heart and soul into.”
The timing of the refurbishment could have been timed better as Joanna explains, “Well I got the keys to my new house and the keys to this place within days of each other; both need a vast amount of work doing on them. Then my mum got taken into hospital, went into intensive care and was in a coma for a time. It was the summer holidays, the kids were off school, I was racing up to Whiston Hospital twice a day every day to be with my Mum….It was a nightmare to be honest, but we’re almost there now.”
In recent weeks celebrities have been out in force in support of the new establishment on Twitter. These are all friends of the owner Joanna Aicher who has worked in Television since she left school at sixteen. Amongst the names tweeting about Blackberry Grove were LA based actors Ricky Whittle and Barry Sloane, recent Master Chef Semi-Finalist Sheree Murphy, Lisa Faulkner, Neil Fitzmaurice, Mickey Starke, Louis Emerick as well as a variety of Hollyoaks and Emmerdale actors and actresses. Why the sudden change of career then for Joanna?
“Well it’s definitely not ‘sudden’. I bought my first property when I was 20 and soon realised that I could barely afford to eat once the mortgage and bills had been paid! So I worked by day at Mersey Television and in bar/restaurant by night. I absolutely loved it – I love mixing with different people every day, that’s one thing I missed when I started my own agency, in an office on my own, I missed just speaking to people.”
Having worked for a variety of award winning restaurants over the past 18 years, Joanna is hoping to have customers returning time and time again, “I know that it’s not only the food that brings people back. Of course that’s vital, but it has to be an all-round good experience for the customer. It would be no good having lovely food if the staff are rude. Likewise, there’s no point putting together the best team if the food isn’t up to scratch, or the atmosphere isn’t nice or the surroundings aren’t comfortable. It’s the whole package.”
Joanna continues, “This is something I’ve wanted to do for many, many years. I can actually put my finger on when it was. My parents used to take us to Northern France every year when I was little and there was a place we stayed in as soon as we got off the ferry where the couple made me and my siblings chocolate crepes, they also allowed us behind the bar where we pretended to serve people. I loved it. I really did. That feeling has never left me. I just can’t wait to get open now…there has been blood sweat and tears, but I know it will be worth it.”
So what type of food will be on offer? “Well, I have two young children so early evening is geared very much around families – we’re talking about New Brighton: seaside, funfair, cinema etc, so we’ve got a fab kids menu. We will only be using local fresh produce, we’ll be doing homemade burgers, hand cut chips, stone-baked pizzas, and a variety of other more serious dishes – it’s all about getting the right balance; we will be listening to the customers, finding out what it is that they want to see on the menu. One thing we’re looking forward to showing off is our wide range of vegan and vegetarian options. We’ve also got an amazing cocktail list and I’ve put a fab team together – we just can’t wait to open our doors now….”
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