Shepherd Neame to invest £2m in bar and restaurant

The Minnis Birchington on Sea Kent

Kent brewer Shepherd Neame is set to invest around £2million in a leading Kent bar and restaurant after buying the freehold.

It is due to take control of The Minnis Bar & Restaurant on the seafront in Birchington-on-Sea, near Ramsgate and Broadstairs, on July 29 from its founder, chef patron Jason Freedman.

Jason acquired the former 1930s beachside café 12 years ago and has developed it into a destination for food and drink including cocktails. He carried out a complete refurbishment in 2007 after the two-storey building suffered major fire damage.

Shepherd Neame, based in Faversham, is hoping to spend about £2million on renovating the site and extending it, including the addition of overnight holiday accommodation.

The Minnis currently has inside seating for over 140 diners, with 20 covers in the bar, 72 in the downstairs restaurant and a further 50 upstairs in the Taste of the Med tapas restaurant. There is also seating for a further 80 on the sun terrace.

“It’s been a labour of love for nearly 13 years,” Jason said. “It’s a big operation and open every day of the year. I want to devote more time to my event catering business, developing artisan food crafts, and be involved in a more intimate dining concept.”

Last year Jason opened Curiously Kentish, a café-delicatessen joint venture with The Minnis’ head chef Kevin Faux, as an outlet for the pair’s homemade and home-cured produce.

There are also plans to host more of their sell-out monthly supper clubs, where diners turn up without knowing what will be served or who they will be sat with.

The outside catering operation will see a mobile Kahuna Hut, serving Cuban sandwiches and street food, come to the Canterbury food festival from September 25 to 27 and the Broadstairs food festival from October 2 to 4.

Jason will also continue to use Sir Galahad, the fully equipped 1963 California Sundial split screen VW microbus that he turned into a mobile bar at The Minnis for private hire.

He added: “I’ve been offered a couple of potentially interesting sites in Canterbury, but I won’t be rushing back into any large-scale 365-day-a-year operation in the foreseeable future.”

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