One year on from the first national lockdown we've asked some of our local independent restaurant and café owners, all members of the Cheltenham independent collective - TURF, to share how this year has impacted them and reveal their reopening plans from the 12 April …


2020 started with the normal sleepy January, the calm after the December madness that we embrace within hospitality. We headed towards Race Week in March, focusing on our businesses and the kick start to the year that the racing brings.

What we didn’t know, was that one of the most engaging things was about to happen. Whilst the world started to lock down, TURF Cheltenham was born through hospitality doing what it does best: coming together to link arms, support each other, share knowledge and wisdom just when it was needed most. Phil, the owner of Coco Nightclub and Movers & Shakers, said it perfectly: “TURF has brought me closer with so many other likeminded businesses and allowed us to weather storms as a collective…this has been one of the highlights of my lockdown.”.

To celebrate a year since TURF was created, we wanted to share some of the positives this year has brought us. We’re all better for being part of TURF and look forward to continuing our growth and promoting independent hospitality in Cheltenham. What follows are comments made during one of our regular member meeting discussions…

Jonas owns and operates Restaurant GL50. He hadn’t been open long before Covid arrived. Despite this, he’s had an award-winning year, ending it with being entered into the Michelin Guide and awarded the Trencherman’s Guide award for "best gourmet takeaway in lockdown." He says “It sounds easy to make a three-course menu but actually doing it all was a good challenge and throughout this year it has been really great to keep me busy and mentally stable!”

David, who owns The Find, has also kept Cheltenham fed and watered over the past year. He highlighted that lockdown has allowed independent businesses to really define and showcase what makes them different. "Our ability to quickly adapt the way we operate and our products has been great to see". In addition, he said “it’s been like a corporate Outward Bound challenge, except it has obviously had to be “Inward Bound” and socially distanced!”

Jo owns The Meadow Café and The Urban Meadow and she commented “Here at The Meadow Cafe we've become affectionately known as The Lockdown Café”. In the really early days when it all felt so new and raw, Jo and her team didn’t flinch and went full steam ahead to enable us all to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. A local café we just can’t be without and is not to be forgotten.

Andrew co-owns Bath Road Beers who have done an amazing job at building up collaborations with great local independent food operations: Mama D’s Pizza, Indian Food Guy, Culina and Marinades have all been really popular with regular guests.

Michelle, who owns Sixways Wine Bar with her husband Phil, mentioned how working with other local businesses has been a real positive. They, too, have held regular food nights supporting other independents as well as working with the local school to create an outdoor space. “When we opened in July 2020 we had plenty of space for Charlton Kings neighbours to sit and enjoy the sunshine with a nice glass of wine.”

Community is something that really shines through during our conversation. Sandford Park Alehouse gave up some of their space to a local charity called TOLO (Take One Leave One) that focussed on redistributing unused winter coats every Saturday to people in need.

Coffee shops have become the heart of many local communities: Moosh, owned by Ray, said that lockdown has allowed time to make connections with people coming through the door. “The biggest thanks must be to our customers who have made it all worthwhile and keep us going every day.”

Steph and Miles own No.85 Coffee and Kitchen and have been making the most delicious treats recently as demonstrated below! Steph shared the loveliest of stories: “One customer was stuck in the USA not able to come home and look after her elderly mother. Unable to visit on her 90th birthday we made a cake and delivered it with her Sunday lunch. She was thrilled to have the familiarity with us and her daughter was equally as pleased that she knew she was getting a hot meal and a friendly face every Sunday.”

For other independent venues, the lockdown has meant closure and with it an unexpected abundance of time on our hands. For those with families it has been a welcome change, although Gareth who owns Purslane is concerned home schooling could have scarred the children!

Mike, who owns The Royal and Exmouth Arms, said “On a personal level we have spent lovely quality time with our beautiful children, especially our daughter.” Matt, who owns Bar Padron, said “Thankfully my head chef Roberto has been able to spend some quality time with his family in Malaga, which is great. I’m sure he’ll also come back with some great new recipes for our menu too!”

Stephanie, owner of Domaine 16, has been enjoying spending some time with her fiancée, Cutie (her dog) and helping fellow local business owners. Like a few of us, she’s never had so much downtime and she’s sure her Cutie is now fed up with her disturbing nap time!

Lockdown has also highlighted the importance of life away from work, with some of our members saying they’re definitely going back to a different business model and hopefully a better life/work balance. Although, from all the discussions it sounds like it’s to enable being able to keep eating at each other’s restaurants and the quiz knowledge levels at a high!

Pak Wai owns 288 Bar & Wok. He said "The Lockdown has given me the opportunity to spend quality time with my family, something that I've not been able to do for 14 years. When we reopen our business hours will be reduced to ensure that this quality of life can continue."

Helen, along with her husband Jon, are using their spare time at the moment to investigate dehydrated food! They own Lumiere, so this is an interesting diversion away from their normal food spectrum. However, it’s for an amazing cause. Their friend is taking part in a world record attempt to be part of the oldest crew to row the Pacific Ocean and now, thanks to some downtime, will be eating a potentially fine dining menu whilst doing so!

We are all owner-operators within hospitality because we have an absolute passion for what we do. We’ve missed it so much and are keen to get back behind the pass, bar, counter or station and see our regulars and friends again. Matt said it perfectly: “We can’t wait to get open again on May 19th, not just to see our amazing customers but also for the team at Padrón to see each other. I miss them all and I miss the buzz. Not long now!”


Reopening plans of TURF members

TURF members currently open…

Bath Road Beers – Shop currently open and running takeaway food offers.

Domaine 16 - Currently open for takeaway Thurs – Sat. Last weekend of April 30, 1&2 May outside event at Sandford Park Ale beer garden.

Havanas Coffee – Currently open, outdoor seating in courtyard area will open from 12 April.

Marinades Caribbean – Currently offering home delivery alongside pop ups, kitchen takeovers and residencies at Cheltenham venues.

The HorseChoux – Currently open for collection, order online.

Moosh – Currently open for takeaway

Number 85 coffee and kitchen – Currently open for takeaway, outside seating from 12 April.

Ritual Coffee Roasters – Currently open

Sixways Wine Bar – Shop currently open. Outdoor areas (pavement & Secret Garden) open from 12 April, bookings being snapped up fast so be quick!

The Find – Currently open for 7 days a week for takeaway and delivery.

The Meadow Café – Currently open for takeaway, outdoor seating available from 12 April (with a new juice & smoothie menu!)

The Railway, The Swan & The Vine – Currently offering takeaway – Beer gardens will open at The Swan & Railway 12 April, pubs will open indoors 17 May. Takeaway and delivery will continue throughout.

The Royal, Charlton Kings & Exmouth Arms, Bath Road – Currently offering takeaway. Beer gardens to open 12 April, indoors 17 May.

WoodKraft Cheltenham - Open for takeaway on specific dates listed on social media until can reopen indoors in May. (Will not be open for outdoor dining in April).

TURF members opening from 12 April…

Cafe Boho – Opening for takeaway and outdoor diners on 12 April (with pancakes & waffles on the menu!)

Sandford Park Ale House – Beer garden reopening with heated marquee. Book via website or Facebook page. Bar Padron serving tapas in garden 23 – 25 April. Domain 16 on 30 April.

The Urban Meadow – Opening for takeaway only on 12 April (with a new bagel menu!)

TURF members opening from the 17 May…

288 Bar & Wok

Bar Padrón

Imperial Haus

L’Artisan

Lumiere – Reopening 3 June

Purslane Restaurant

Restaurant GL50

Smokey Joe’s

The Suffolk Arms

Under the Prom – Reopening June/July

For more information on where you can find our independent venues, visit us at www.turfcheltenham.co.uk/turf-listings. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

TURF Cheltenham

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