The revelation that The Modern Boulangerie is moving into the expansive Celandine Hall in Ramsgate’s Harbour Street is not as surprising as it may at first seem.
The business, started by George Bellamy-Adams in April 2017, has blazed a trail since its inception.
George, who quit as head baker at venues in London in a bid to go it alone, first set up business in the premises of the Grumpy Goblin gaming store, originally in the High Street and then in Queen Street.
Specialising in Viennoiserie – which translates as ‘things of Vienna’ and includes croissants, Pain au Chocolat and Pain aux Raisin and also in Beignets, which are French pastries – trade began as business to business with some personal orders also catered for.
The success of that micro-business and demand for George’s kitchen creations from cafés, restaurants and shoppers meant a move to his own shop in Westcliff Road where he and a new team -including mum Karen behind the scenes – opened in July 2020.
A kickstarter helped to kit the new premises with bread ovens, meaning George could expand the products he was offering. Throughout the pandemic The Modern Boulangerie kept the doors open, juggling the steady demand alongside extra covid measures and the challenges of operating at the height of the virus.
Hard work, talent, imagination and a love of community have now resulted in a major undertaking with the business relocating from the tiny Westcliff Road site to the rather grand four floor Celandine Hall, which offers 7,400sq ft of space.
The property, which was last used as an indoor market until its closure in 2014, has a history of trade from a toy shop in the first half of the 1800s to a drapers and gentleman’s outfitters in the latter half of the century before being annexed by the growth of the Hyland, Lewis and Linon department store.
During this era the building had significant alterations and sometime after 1929 the shop front was unified and remains as found today.
Circa 2020, the owners of Celandine Hall, sisters Bella Landen and Sophie Hubble, secured a capital grant and carried out a renovation of the Grade II Listed site before it went on the lease market.
Now the site will become The Modern Boulangerie shop with patisserie and deli and a 50-60 cover café on the ground floor and below that a huge kitchen with separate areas for baking, patisserie, café prep and short orders. There will be new, three deck ovens where 60 loaves can be produced at a time compared to 8 currently. There will be space for dry store and goods such as croissants and sourdough can be made in a cool area away from the heat of the ovens.
And there are plans for students to gain training and working experience at the Boulangerie as well as collaborations with pop-up ventures and food traders.
George, 33, said: “It is a big commitment and a heavy investment but I am very confident. I know my staff and what we can do, the only thing that has been limiting us is capacity and space.”
The staff numbers will increase from 5 at the current site to at least ten initially and then more as needed.
Karen said: “What we also want to do is training for young people, catering school students. We are also very keen for it to be a community hub and a safe space for LGBTQ+ people and other groups to spend time in. We want the community to feel this is their space.”
There are also talks with an isle company about installing a smoker at the premises.
George said: “They will be able to smoke their products here and we will be able to take some of their goods for the shop and café. They won’t be working here but will have the space to do what they want and then leave.
“There is also the space to get other chefs in or people who want to do interesting stuff, perhaps come in and host an event. It would be great to get in someone like chef Joe Hill and other guest chefs to teach students.”
On the main floor a glass partition will separate the shop at the front from the café, which will sit below two large skylights.
One shop front window will be displaying goods on sale while the other will display local art.
The Modern Boulangerie has taken a ten year lease and is letting the top two floors of the building on a five year deal to Ramsgate architect firm del Renzio & del Renzio.
The aim is for The Modern Boulangerie to open at the new premises this Autumn. The West Cliff Road shop remains open.
Karen said: “It has all been very positive. The community has really been behind us and supported us through lockdown as we were also there for them.”
A new kickstarter is being launched to help with the purchase of the three-deck ovens, with a £25,000 target.