I LOVE this foodie explosion which is erupting in North Staffordshire right now – and long may it continue.
I think as a region we are a little bit late to the party but so what? That’s our thing. We get there in our own time but, in the main, when we do we get it right.
Personally I’ve never been a part of the Nando’s massive, calling for pricey chicken and chip combos en masse, but I do understand the movement. Before Festival Park, The Hive and Trentham Gardens, the big chain offering in Stoke-on-Trent (a city of a fair size) consisted of McDonald’s – as a relative newcomer even I remember when KFC was few and far between. And we have to ask ‘why?’. I think it was down to an outside perception that perhaps wouldn’t appreciate these venues, that there was no market. A very wrong perception which I hope has been turned around.
Now we can add Frankie and Benny’s, Pizza Hut, Joe’s Kitchen, Chiquito, and the almost revered Nando’s to our chain-restaurant list, among many others. But they are only a small part of the mix. We also have a fab independent sector, offering everything from all day breakfasts to fresh pizzas, fine dining, authentic Asian food and even pimped up sandwiches.
We have just marked the two-year anniversary of The Glost House opening and, hand on heart, it has taken us at least this long for people to ‘get’ us. I’m still not sure that everyone does buy in to what we have set out to achieve. And that challenge is part of what being in business is all about.
My point is that in Stoke-on-Trent I believe we have the capacity, the audience and the taste for a huge mix of cultural, dietary and ‘in-the-moment’ foodie offerings. Maybe we just need to think about widening – or even narrowing – our horizons when choosing where to dine.
At the moment we don’t serve chips at The Glost House. If you want chips then by all means, head to your local chippy or pub for tea. But when you fancy a lighter bite – say a really fresh and tasty sandwich for lunch, or a filling jacket potato – why not try us or another independently-run cafe. If you are in the mood for a burger or a dirty kebab, then The Glost House isn’t your venue but there will be many alternatives nearby, right on the doorstep.
We have smoothies on our menu here, all made by hand with fresh ingredients measured out and mixed at the time of ordering. Recently we were stopped by a couple of customers who had ordered, and drank it has to be said, their smoothies from the menu. But their comment was that they were disappointed the drink didn’t come with cream and sparklers and ‘all that jazz’. None of this was offered on the menu by the way but perhaps, now many venues these days do love a ‘freak shake’, a simple smoothie didn’t cut the mustard.
Just because a venue doesn’t have what you are hankering for in that moment, or have had elsewhere, you shouldn’t write it off. Five or six days a week I do eat from our menu because I believe in it. Some days I just want a big fat curry. With all the extras.
Embrace our North Staffordshire foodie offering, different can be good or bad. Get to know what’s on offer, where. Eating out doesn’t have to cost a fortune. But it also doesn’t have to come with chips.