Advantage Catering Equipment Ltd are celebrating a career highlight as they tie up operations on their biggest combined project to date.
The Folkstone-based equipment specialists have just completed work on four of the outlets at the new Elwick Place leisure, retail and restaurant development in Ashford, Kent.
From initially coming on board to work with long-standing customer Macknade, a food hall, dining, deli, drinks and butchers’ concept that aims to bring communities together around a shared love of food & drink, site developers Stanhope were impressed by what they saw and approached Advantage to design and install the F&B facilities at another of the site’s premises.
The Gastronomist Club is a refined, modern event space, boasting a dinner party-styled restaurant which offers its guest a curated two and a half-hour dining experience featuring menus inspired by the freshest and finest available ingredients from the surrounding Kent countryside. Guests sit together on long, social tables, running the length of the restaurant up to an open kitchen which dominates the entire top wall and provides entertainment and a focal point for diners.
With work underway at both Macknade and The Gastronomist Club, Stanhope added a third project into the mix and brought Advantage onboard to fit-out the Unita 4 premises. A modern, laidback Italian food concept focussing on freshly made pasta dishes and authentic pizzas to create an enjoyable destination – a place where families, friends and colleagues can meet through their love of fresh pasta.
The fourth Elwick Place project was not of a foodservice nature, but one that still relied on Advantage’s expertise in planning, walls, floors and ceilings. Stanhope again made the introduction between Advantage and Laughlan Jones, an interior design company, specialising in the niche area of luxury ski chalet interiors. The Advantage team prepared the space ready of the client’s own interior designers to populate.
Each of the three foodservice outlets are uniquely and fundamentally different in terms of design and the equipment required. Counters, displays, refrigeration displays, serverys and hot plates all played a part in the Macknade fit-out. The open kitchen aspect at The Gastronomist Club relied heavily on well thought-out ventilation and extraction and a fine balance between practical kitchen flow and operation and being aesthetically pleasing to the diner. Unita 4 required wood fired pizza ovens, and pasta making equipment of all shapes and sizes. Individually, the projects offered Advantage Catering Equipment Ltd the chance to produce quality installations that are the bread and butter of their business. Collectively, they allowed the company to showcase their versatility, tenacity and ambition to deliver multiple projects within a close time frame.
Simon Critchett, Project Manager at Advantage Catering Equipment Ltd is delighted by the opportunities the Elwick Place projects have offered his team. He said, “Not only are we thrilled to have won the contacts at a number of the units at Elwick Place but it’s how it all unfolded that really makes us proud. To have impressed enough on the first project to turn the heads of the developers which then led to three more contracts is just fantastic, and testament to the hard work and attention to detail of the entire Advantage team.
“This project has given us the opportunity to push ourselves and see what we’re capable of in a design-led role. We’ve been in the industry for nearly 20 years with a heavy focus on equipment installations, service and maintenance, and only modestly got on with design projects so to be given not one, but four, opportunities to flex our design capabilities has been a real coup for the entire team.”
So much so, Advantage went above what is normally expected of commercial kitchen designers and installers. At one-point Critchett found himself sourcing curtains for one of the outlets, organising waste management facilities and logistics, and even paying the broadband contract! “To say we deal in ovens and floors, we certainly went the extra mile on this one to ensure the customer was happy!” says Crichett.
Ainara Mateu, Co-owner, at The Gastronomist Club cannot fault the project management, customer service and quality of the work produced by Advantage. She said, “We were thrilled with the level of work and commitment shown by Simon and the whole Advantage team. We felt in safe hands and that they understood what we were trying to achieve with The Gastronomist Club concept. They were able to guide us at every step when decisions needed to be made over equipment placement, floors, lighting, ventilation… You name it; Advantage took care of it! We wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again on any future projects at The Gastronomist Club.”
Gary Bourne, Development Consultant at Stanhope was equally as impressed with the standard of work delivered by Advantage., across all four of the sites. He said, “As project manager of the Elwick Place project, I was on site and led many of the meetings with the Advantage team and I was incredibly impressed by the quality of their work and how they moved all the projects forward at the same time. I found them easy to work with, prompt and vitally, extremely reliable. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again.”
It’s not lost on Critchett that the timing of the Elwick Place contracts has come when many in the industry have faced challenging business conditions due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. He says, “We’re acutely aware of how fortunate we’ve been to have bucked the trend and grown and developed the services offered by the business over the last year. We know many of our colleagues across the sector have struggled but we hope many can seek out new ways of doing business as the wider hospitality sectors starts to get back on its feet.”
To learn more about the services offered by Advantage Catering Equipment Ltd please visit www.advantage-catering-equipment.co.uk
To find out more about the Elwick Place project visit elwickplace.com/eat-and-drink/