The owner of a former West Devon cafe and bistro is striving to reopen as a pop up restaurant, allowing local food and drink businesses to use the venue to sell and showcase their produce.
Paul Graeme-Drury, who co-owns the Voting Tree on the Bere peninsula with his wife and has lived at the property for 25 years, is beginning the process of approaching local businesses. He is offering them the opportunity to use the premises — whether for a half or whole day — in order to have a functioning restaurant on the peninsula once more.
The venue closed indefinitely after Christmas last year due to the rising cost of living post-pandemic. At the time, Paul thanked all of his customers to date and expressed his intention to reopen in the near future — an intention that is now rapidly becoming a reality.
Paul said: “I’ve been searching hard to get public liability insurance coverge since Christmas last year. It’s been a real struggle but I want the community to be able to still use this place. We were more than just a bistro on the peninsula, we were right at the heart of the community as a hub for anyone and everyone.
“We want people using local businesses and to give those businesses this opportunity, offering them a restaurant space for their customers in which they can sell their fantastic local produce instead of just having a mobile truck in which to operate on certain pitches or at events.
“Having worked on vans I know what it’s like to be an aspiring restaurateur wanting to own your own premises but being faced with expensive costs. When we were open we used to receive a lot of five star reviews.”
Paul has already secured his first booking for Saturday, October 7 with Birland Feasts, who plan to use the space once a month and are in the process of spreading the word and advertising the space; they could open and operate as early as September if there is demand.
The Voting Tree is based at 1 Bedford Street, opposite the Edgcumbe Hotel and is currently undergoing minor refurbishments.The entire space consists of the kitchen, front of house and accompanying courtyard, which Paul is happy to allow full or partial use of, including glasses, cutlery and crockery, depending on what any business interested prefers.
Paul said: “We’re open to renting out the space with or without the kitchen for minimum six hour period but total use in one day could be up to 12 hours if necessary. We have a maximum capacity indoors of 27, but there’s more room out in the courtyard which has a lovely atmosphere. Any day of the week is feasible from anytime between 8am and 11pm but this is dependent on licensing.
“We’re really trying to be like a phoenix rising from the ashes here. We want to bring some real life back to the centre of the village, based in our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The space is here and we feel like there’s a real appetite for it. Primarily, the plan is to act as a food outlet for now, but depending on insurance, we’d also be looking to act as a pop up shop for businesses too if we could.”