A new restaurant concept is to open in The Grafton Cambridge as part of revitalising the former BHS anchor store. The signing highlights a varied and imaginative vision for the area, including Food Social, a new dining quarter.
Independently owned, Amélie is the first name to sign for Food Social. It will be the UK’s only restaurant for Flammeküeche, an authentic light dish made of thin bread dough, spread with crème fraîche and fresh topping combinations that dates back to the 14th century and originates from the French Alsace region.
All three levels of the former BHS store are being reconfigured by owner Legal & General Investment Management, Real Assets (LGIM RA) and asset manager Wrenbridge.
On the ground floor, the neighbouring H&M store has been upsized by 60% to open H&M Home, offering a large selection of top quality interior design and decorations and is now trading over a total of 29,875 sq. ft.
On the first floor, the space has been opened up and completely revamped to create a new dining quarter branded as Food Social. Located within the former BHS unit and the former food court, the area will integrate F&B with leisure, connecting to the adjacent, eight-screen Vue Cinema, which was recently revamped. Food Social will be home to eight new casual dining restaurants, three of which will feature dine-in food-pods. These will complement the ground floor level food-pod in the centre of the mall, adding to the overall appeal.
A 17,500 sq ft PureGym on the second floor completes the changes.
Tom Williams, assistant fund manager at LGIM RA, said: “Taking back such a large amount space gave us real potential to create something different for our customers. Food Social will become a great place for visitors to meet friends and family to relax over a meal or coffee. We’re looking forward to announcing further F&B brands very soon, adding to the great retail names that we already have.”
Amélie is run by chef and restauranteur Regis Crepy and his son Alex. The independent restaurant follows Regis’ 32 years at the helm of The Great House in Lavenham where he was awarded three Michelin red forks, three AA Rosettes and was in the top 50 longest lasting establishments in the Good Food Guide; he also owned two other successful restaurants in Suffolk. Alex brings three years’ experience from Gaucho, where he was one of the restaurant’s youngest Managing Partners.
Regis Crepy, owner of Amélie, said: “We’re hugely looking forward to opening at The Grafton. Amélie has long been an ambition of ours and The Grafton is the ideal location to launch our brand and Flammekueche to the market. Food Social will be a family-friendly, open plan, fun environment that will perfectly complement our restaurant and will create a place in which customers enjoy spending time.”
The Grafton is the only shopping destination in Cambridge to offer a retail, leisure and casual dining mix. It is ranked in the top five in East Anglia, according to Trevor Wood Associates. It has an affluent and growing catchment with 20 per cent more people in the most prosperous ACORN categories compared with the national average. Additionally, there are over 30,000 students in the city from the University of Cambridge and the nearby Anglia Ruskin University, plus some 12,000 office workers within a 10-minute walk, adding to the diversity of the customer base.
Across the 500,000 sq ft shopping centre, a £28.5 million, 24-month refurbishment programme is nearing completion to create a bright and modern environment throughout for visitors, including upgraded entrances, flooring and roofing. Refurbishment plans include the reconfiguration of units to match retailer and operator requirements. The signing of Amélie will complement the existing casual dining offer, including the recently upsized Costa Coffee, Bella Italia, plus the Debenhams Restaurant.