Chef Tim Allen has revealed he has taken on the former Seafood Pub Company Wine Bar site in Aughton, West Lancashire, to open his own restaurant Sō-lō next month.
"I've done it in everyone else's restaurants in every place I've been into, but it's never actually been mine or owned by me properly. So this is me stood on my own two feet. It's really exciting," Allen told The Caterer.
The venue, not far from Moor Hall, will have 40 covers inside and approximately 40 further covers on the terrace. It will serve informal modern British cuisine with some influences from around the world and Allen's classical training, with bar snacks such as slow-cooked pork and tacos.
Allen said: "The building's got a real presence and loads of natural light. It's going to be what I do best – really informal casual dining. I don't want people to be put off by that high-end feel, I want it to be quite relaxed, really informal. I want people to not just come every four or five months, I want people to come here on a regular basis."
He has two private minimal shareholders who own 25% of the business between them and has taken a £40,000 a year long lease from landlord and local businessman Ian Mercer. Allen is spending approximately £100,000 refurbishing the kitchen and guest areas himself, mostly by recycling and reusing, with both cost and sustainability in mind. For example, partitions have been turned into garden planters and he has bought his kitchen appliances second-hand from Michael Wignall's Angel at Hetton.
"It's the cheapest restaurant that I've ever set up, that's for sure, and I'm very proud we have done the project commercially-minded. But you wouldn't be able to tell… you don't need a Rolls-Royce to cook off, you can just be clever how you do it," said Allen.
He is recruiting for a team of seven for the site and, once open, he hopes to expand the business to include bedrooms and a private dining room.
Allen was previously chef-partner at the Flitch of Bacon in Little Dunmow, Essex, and under him the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star, as was the Wild Rabbit in Kingham, Oxfordshire, where Allen was executive chef, and D&D London's Launceston Place, where he was chef-patron.
His CV also includes seven years under head chef Martin Burge at the two-Michelin-starred Whatley Manor and four years with John Burton-Race, first at L'Ortolan and then at the Landmark London.
The Seafood Pub Company filed for administration in June last year after failing to secure a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) or raise additional funding from investors. The Oakman Group bought six of the sites and founder Joycelyn Neve joined Oakman as managing director of its new seafood pub division.
You need to be a premium member to view this. Subscribe from just 99p per week.
Already subscribed? Log In