New restaurant for Hotham Park, to replace existing cafes
To be run by healthy eating franchise, Pistachios in the Park**
But where in the Park will it be built? And will there be consultation?
A brand new restaurant is to be built in Hotham Park, to replace the existing cafes
there and enhance the offer of refreshment to Park users. And following a selection
process by Arun District Council, an up-and-coming healthy eating franchise, Pistachios
in the Park have been selected to run it. (**See below)
Pistachios already run nine Park restaurants in other areas, offering menus of hot
and cold drinks and a variety of healthy food favourites, aimed particularly at providing
good quality nutrition and pleasant surroundings for children and adults alike. There
was originally some suggestion, during the selection process, that the restaurant
was intended to provide fine dining facilities for the evening trade. But a glance
at the Pistachios in the Park website does not suggest this is normally their market
sector of choice.
There is some disagreement, however, as to exactly where the restaurant will be sited.
Arun District Council appears to have decided, without any consultation with Park
users or the Hotham Park Heritage Trust, that it will be placed in the south west
corner of the Park, on the level grassed area between the boating lake and the south
west gate (illustrated above). The intention behind this is that it will serve people
taking part in events in this area.
However, many people associated with the Park disagree with this, mainly because
few events take place there anyway, most of them happening near the Bandstand on
the east side of the Park. Also, that if the restaurant is built on the flat grassed
area, there will be no appreciable space left for events in any case. Plus, they
are unhappy about delivery/maintenance/waste collection vehicles penetrating to that
part of the park, with associated dangers to children playing.
A preferred site for some would be on the left just inside the main Park gate (illustrated
above), where it would be able to serve the main events area; and at the same time
pick up passing trade from the public who can use the adjacent Park car park, and
possibly also trade from the University or Butlins.
And a third possibility is adjacent to the present boarded up café, near Hotham Park
House, although it is understood that the residents of the House are not keen to
have a restaurant close by. However, this site has the advantage of being central
to the Park and still close to the main events area.
So, is it too much to ask that Arun District Council carries out a consultation to
see which site is most favoured?
1 November 2012
**UPDATE 19th October 2013. The deal has not gone well, many in the town claiming
that it has been a classic Arun District Council bungle.
After Pistachios were selected there was a long period in which Arun claimed that
all was proceeding well, designs were being approved by Pistachios and the operation
would be up and running by the summer of 2013. We say 'operation' because it appeared
to have subtly changed from a restaurant to a cafe and the notion of people trekking
across the park to a fine dining venue had evaporated with the winter winds.
Meanwhile, the existing cafe operator had been given her marching orders by Arun,
and instructed to remove her cabin (seen on the left in the top picture). This did
not amuse local people as nothing was happening about the new building, and Pistachios
had to provide some sort of temporary replacement. This they did; but it was a fancied-up
caravan and did not provide the same sort of service that Park users had been accustomed
Easter came and went, holidaymakers came to the Park and found a second-class service.
Summer arrived, still no change, no building. Pistachios continued to advertise
for a franchisee to take the business on, which many felt did not bode well.
Then, all of a sudden, Arun announced that the deal with Pistachios was off. It
seems there was a disagreement between them concerning the running of the "caravan"
and they'd fallen out. Pistachios wrote a letter to the Observer (was it printed?)
indicating their dissatisfaction with how they'd been treated but, as ever, Arun
wasn't telling anybody anything. The caravan went, so now the Park had no cafe at
all, just ice creams being sold from the boat ticket kiosk. And that is now all
we have in the Park. Congratulations, Arun.
Arun's latest wheeze is that they will now speculate with taxpayers' money by building
the shell of the cafe in more or less the originally decided spot, in the hope that
they will attract an operator who will Lease it from them. But it has to be said
that if they treat that operator in the same way that they treat their seafront concessions,
bossing him around with what he can and cannot serve, they'll have an empty building
for quite some time, at mounting cost to the taxpayers.
We sense another bungle on the way, to compound the first one.
UPDATE 6th SEPTEMBER 2014. How much is the new café going to cost us all? Click on
cafe to find out...