Alex Bond’s Alchemilla is a restaurant mid-boom. The story so far is one of an impregnable Chef Restauranteur who built a restaurant (somewhat literally) by hand, which he opened in Summer 2017. We meet him crowed with three AA-rosettes, a Michelin recommendation, a 53rd position at the National Restaurant Awards and as The Good Food Guide’s Chef to Watch for 2019. There are many more strings to Alchemilla’s bow, but as it plays us a merry tune, we chat to Alex about his uphill struggle to finesse his restaurant identity.
The building, a crypt-like, formerly abandoned Victorian Coach House, was a surprise in itself:
He attained backing, but not enough of a budget to invest in a coherent brand model and seamless collateral. Instead, Alex spent the following 12 months donning many hats to get the place open. Architect, interior designer and web developer, you name it:
Then there’s the £700 website that Alex describes as “wobbly” and “baggy”.
At the end of Alex’s first night, he’d been awake for 70 hours.
Then, just seven months after opening, Alex came to a landmark moment. They were finally starting to breathe again when they came 53rd in the National Restaurant Awards, 2018. Alex knew that this achievement, alongside the glowing reviews they were receiving from national press, would bring in new customers, and that their first port of call would be his ‘wobbly’ website. Time to bring the brand together:
Alex reinvested the money that he made in his first year back into the brand, making tweaks to the interiors including the kitchen floor and chefs table, updating the website and expanding the team:
Today is about growing the brand from this place of strength. Alex has always been incentivised to reintroduce his customers to ingredients, especially vegetables, that they think they hate. With that in mind he's finishing off the roof terrace with its own seven meter greenhouse, living wall and seating. The restaurant’s roots are planted to brave the onslaught of attention that will continue to flood their way.
Wishing Alchemilla all the best as a finalist in the Craft Guild of Chefs Awards 2019.