The owners of Margate’s award-winning Buoy and Oyster restaurant have used the lockdown to focus on reinvestment and expansion plans.
Nadine and Simon Morriss, who first opened the restaurant in 2015, have launched a street-food style fish and chip takeaway from the Marine Drive entrance of the building and are busy on plans for reopening of the business upstairs from April 12 and their Margate Suites holiday lets from May 17.
The couple have also had an ‘expansion’ at home with the birth of Birdie, now three-months old, joining sibling Bowen, who is nearly two-years-old.
They say they had a long-term vision to create a unique, “fun dining” seafood restaurant which would stand tall for years to come. This was the drive behind their open plan theatre kitchen and 20 cover seafood bar created in 2019, a format that has helped them scoop 2AA Rosettes in 2019 and 2020, the coveted “Kent restaurant of the year” in the Taste of Kent awards 2018 and being in the top 3 once again in 2020.
The new Beach Buoys fish and chip and seafood takeaway has the ethos of the restaurant, specialising in fresh seafood and championing local Kent produce, but converts it to a relaxed, street-food format. There are vegan, gluten-free and alcohol-free options on the menu.
Nadine said: “Simon wanted the takeaway to represent all that we love with fresh seafood dining but in a more relaxed, street food style format, making it easier for customers to enjoy at home or on the beach.
“Fish and chips take centre stage with potatoes from Kent based farmer Laslett Farm, Ash currently on the menu. The fishing industry has borne the brunt of Brexit and the restrictions placed on the hospitality industry and we have witnessed this firsthand and so it was important for us to work with a clear supply chain to support all aspects of the seafood industry from boat to table, or in this case box.
“We have worked with Jason Llewyn, owner of Fruits De Mer in Broadstairs, for the last five years and so we of course trusted Jason to help us on this journey with the very best seafood available for us to serve to our customers, using his local South East fishing boats where possible.”
Food on offer includes crab and yuzu loaded fries, salt and pepper squid, vegan banana blossom and there is a fresh seafood counter where customers can get cockles, whelks and jellied eels. There is also battered sausage on the menu using Kent pork and specially designed casing just for frying from butcher Carl Worgan of Worgan’s farm shop.
The expansion comes at a time when restaurants have been forced to close due to the national lockdown, resulting in many independents having to reformulate their business models to adapt and survive in a post Covid-19 world. There will continue to be extreme and challenging circumstances with many restrictions, especially social distancing, still in place for at least another three months.
Nadine said: “We have always championed supporting local produce and suppliers. However, lock down and the pandemic really reminded us of all the people and families who are actually behind all of these businesses and the supply chain.
“Chefs need great quality produce and great quality produce is only possible with a supporting supply chain who really care about what they do.
“From local vineyards through to the bread and cheese we know our suppliers personally and know what a tough year it has been for us all.
“Restaurant supply chains have not had the same level of support as hospitality businesses and it is essential that we continue to support them. Use them or lose them has never been more important for every business decision at such a critical time.
“The fishing industry in particular has taken a huge hit, especially with new restrictions from Brexit alongside the pandemic and losing their biggest trade customers due to closures.
“We believe in British fish and seafood and want to do all we can to support this industry and encourage customers to eat more fish that they may not usually try.
“Vegan and gluten free are also important to us as we wanted it to be traditional British fish and chips that everyone could enjoy regardless of dietary restrictions or allergies.”
Chef/owner Simon will be at the helm of the takeaway with trusted head chef Craig Edgell running the Buoy and Oyster kitchen upstairs.
All 25 members of staff at Buoy and Oyster have been retained on furlough and will be back at their posts from April and May.
Nadine said: “Our team is what makes our restaurant what it is and why we have been able to continue to grow and develop. There were definitely times where we were uncertain for our future, however we have been able to focus on getting up and running and the takeaway aspect of the business should now protect the jobs and business from any potential future lock downs or restrictions.”
Beach Buoys – how to order and when it is open
Beach Buoys is open for contact free click and collect only.
Nadine said: “This means that we can open in a responsible and safe way, knowing that we have taken all precautionary measures to ensure a safe environment for our customers and our team.”
Customers can order via the website or by scanning the QR code outside the takeaway, selecting a pre-order date up to a month in advance and then arrive to collect their food at their allocated time slot. There will be no need to queue and customers can walk around the town, head to the beach or grab a drink in one of the nearby establishments knowing their food will be ready at a certain time.
In March the takeaway will be open 12pm-9pm Wednesday- Sunday.
From April 12 it will be open seven days a week.
The flagship restaurant upstairs will reopen for Al Fresco all day dining seven days a week from April 12 with a covered, heated marquee for guests to enjoy the sea views. Normal restaurant dine in opening hours resume from May 17.
Margate Suites holiday lets
Overnight stays at Margate Suites four fully equipped holiday lets resume from May 17.
The interiors are the work of local designers. The Courtyard suite is designed by Studio Margate, made up of Amy Exton film set designer (Margate location house) upholster Jessica Duprez (Poh Maluna) and Elouise Farley (Lady Wood carpenter) and has bespoke beds and vibrant pastel colours
Emerald suite is designed by Leanne Walsh (Yard Girl) whose other local projects can be found in the Libertines Albion Rooms in Cliftonville.
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