New food businesses have opened for trade as the former Green Tara in Ramsgate undergoes yet another transformation.
The Harbour Parade venue has a new red façade to denote the change of use to Ramsgate Promenade Market for the premises which originally opened as the Belgian Bar in 1999.
Boss Andy Barrett says the aim is to make the market ‘a destination.’ Similar to Margate’s Old Kent Market, the venue will eventually have around 16 different producers offering everything from a juice bar and a coffee shop to ciders and smoked meats.
Work is ongoing but customers can order drinks – table service from the ‘Belgian Bar’ crew- or pop in and visit two new food stalls.
Food on Focus is run by Anthony Coppard and partner Agi Balogh. The couple are offering street food, ranging from Hungarian Langos – fried flatbread and toppings- to paprika bangers and Hungrito wraps and a Belgian Bar tribute of beef brisket in Belgian ale.
Both have lengthy experience in the food industry as professional chefs with Agi training in Hungary and Anthony in Westminster.
Anthony has worked at venues including Swan at the Globe on London’s Bankside which looks after the Globe theatre’s onsite bar, restaurant, café, event spaces and tap houses. He currently is a chef manager at Channel House in Dover.
Agi also has a wealth of hospitality experience although she has been taking a break and working as a dental nurse.
Last year the couple set up Food on Focus, a food photography business, and now they have taken the plunge to work for themselves.
Anthony, 36, said: “The pandemic pushed us to do something for ourselves. It gave is the realisation that the hospitality industry is not as stable as it used to be for restaurants. We believe street food takeaway is the way forward and that it can’t be so damaged by the pandemic.
“Agi did not want to be a chef for someone else but now we have opened our own food business and we can do our own thing.
“We do not want to be held back, we express ourselves with food and are very passionate about it.”
Food on Focus is trading from a brilliant, converted horsebox with a custom-made extractor canopy. The couple bought the part renovated box and spent eight weeks completing the project.
Anthony says they chose the horsebox because they liked the ‘quirkiness’ and vintage feel of it.
The pair say they are excited to be present for the beginning of Ramsgate Promenade Market.
Anthony said: “I had been in the Belgian Bar years ago and knew of Andy and the venture in Margate. I visited (the Old Kent Market) and thought it was amazing so wanted to be a part of this.”
A couple of stalls down from Anthony and Agi customers can find Michael Janik at The Dog House and Grill.
Mike, 27, is serving up gourmet burgers and craft hotdogs. With a long background in hospitality, the Ramsgate stall is just the latest venture for the enterprising businessman.
Mike also runs Mikey’s Gourmet Kitchen and has outlets in Canterbury and Chatham as well as a mobile food service that caters for festivals and events. H says the aim is to also open in Whitstable and Ashford.
Mike said: “I was here last October and met Andy. We had a chat about the set up and I feel Ramsgate is definitely the place to be and I wanted to be a part f something exciting with a bright future.”
Mike launched his company some 18 months ago after a career in pubs, restaurants and hotels.
He said: “This is my passion. For the Summer I want to be open seven days a week, all day until the last people come off the beach. I am also planning more online ordering and beach drop offs, so people can make their order and we will take it to them on the beach.”
More food and drink businesses are due to take up spaces as the refurbishment moves along. These include the Hotsmoke Meathouse run by Thanet trader Rick Lane.
Smoked meats include spiced brisket, chilli and lime pork and Moroccan stuffed chicken.
Andy says more stalls are on the way. He said: “It is all coming together slowly and we are working on it every day.
“There will be smoked meats, a coffee shop, a juice bar and others. I have the experience from the Old Kent Market so can make sure people come here and find a little destination that is quite quirky and has lots to offer.”