Wirral mum puts blood, sweat and tears into new independent restaurant

A WIRRAL mum is hoping her latest business venture will be just what people want as she prepares to open the doors on independent bar and restaurant Blackberry Grove.

Joanna Aicher has been working non-stop on the restaurant since getting the keys eight weeks ago. And with the double doors open and the team set to task, there hasn’t been a shortage of well-wishers dropping by.

“Lots of people have popped in to ask what we’re doing, when we’ll be open or just to wish us luck,” said the mother-of-two.

Blackberry Grove – in the old Peninsula Dining Rooms unit on the corner of Victoria Road and Grosvenor Road – will pride itself on using only fresh local produce to create its varied menu. From homemade burgers, stone-baked pizzas and what 34-year-old Joanna described as “more serious dishes”, the restaurant will have something for everyone.

She said: “The chain restaurants can be nice and they obviously have their place, particular 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.”

Creating Blackberry Grove has been something of a challenge at times for single mum Joanna – who has lived in Wirral for 10 years and recently moved to New Brighton - but she hopes to be open in the next two to three weeks.

“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.”

Recent weeks have seen a whole host of celebrity names supporting Joanna – who has worked in television since she left school at 16 - on Twitter, including former Hollyoaks stars Ricky Whittle and Barry Sloane, Sheree Murphy, Lisa Faulkner, Neil Fitzmaurice, Mickey Starke and Louis Emerick. As well as working on the restaurant, Joanna also runs TV and film casting agency Bananafish Management.

She has also worked for a variety of award-winning restaurants over the past 18 years, something she hopes will help to create a place people will return to time and time again. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for many, many years,” explained Joanna. Blackberry Grove will be tailored around the seaside, funfair and family.

Joanna added: "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. “I just can’t wait to get open now. There has been blood, sweat and tears but I know it will be worth it.”

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Blackberry Grove (122082), Liverpool/Merseyside Reservations