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Bury St Edmunds Damson & Wilde bar and restaurant is first of its kind in UK



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A new bar and restaurant in Bury St Edmunds is the first of its kind in the country.

Damson & Wilde will open on Wednesday at 9am.

Located at 59 Abbeygate Street, the bar and restaurant is at the site of the former Café Rouge, which closed in July 2020 after its parent company went into administration.

The Damson & Wild staff. Picture: Mecha Morton
The Damson & Wild staff. Picture: Mecha Morton

Damson & Wilde, which will be open from 9am to 11pm, seven days a week, has been opened by the City Pub Group.

The group, established 10 years ago, owns and runs 43 independent premium pubs in the south of the England and South Wales. Some 20 of these are in London including Covent Garden, Chelsea and Notting Hill.

It chose Bury St Edmunds to launch its first Damson & Wilde branded bar and restaurant, of which it hopes to open more around the country.

59 Abbeygate Street was formerly Cafe Rouge, which closed in 2020
59 Abbeygate Street was formerly Cafe Rouge, which closed in 2020

"Bury St Edmunds has thriving town centre and with its markets and local events, it was exactly what were looking for our first Damson & Wilde bar and restaurant," said Toby Smith, the group's chief operating officer.

"Our range of independent pubs are predominantly in cathedral cities and university towns. We also have eight in Cambridge and two in Norwich.

"Bury seemed the perfect place to to launch the brand, to complement our pub estate.

"We could have chosen London but this location and building felt right and we will see how it goes, before looking to open more.

The design is by global company, Keane
The design is by global company, Keane

"It's taken nine months with a total refurbishment throughout, including the kitchens and we've been delighted to convert a cold, dark, closed Café Rouge into a modern, plush, and luxurious all day, every day, venue."

59 Abbeygate Street, a Grade II Listed sandstone and red brick, was originally built in 1891, to a design by John Shewell Corder.

It now features modern decor throughout in different shades of blue, burnt orange, green and white, including touches of foliage in the roof.

The venue will be open 9am to 11pm, seven days a week
The venue will be open 9am to 11pm, seven days a week

Award-winning global designers, Keane, were called in as consultants.

The decor retains original features including wood panelling, fireplace and ceiling motifs.

The walled, courtyard garden area, which seats up to 80, has also been given a makeover and features a retractable roof which will cover three quarters of the area if the weather turns sour.

The roof features foliage
The roof features foliage

There is also a private dining area which sits up to 20 people for functions, celebrations and birthday parties.

On Friday and Saturday, the venue opened for 'friends and family' only to give staff a practice run before the official opening.

Alfie Jeffrey, 18, from Bury St Edmunds is amongst the new team of 15 working at the venue.

Alfie Jeffreys serves up an Eggs Benedict
Alfie Jeffreys serves up an Eggs Benedict

"My friend Sebastian got a job here first and then told me about it," said Alfie, who lives in the town.

"My mum, Natalie, was the manager of Café Rouge for four years, and Sebastian's mum was a waitress, so I was very keen after working at other bars and restaurants in the town.

"I think it looks great, trendy, new and different, and it feels like it belongs in this location.

"Café Rouge was very dark and this is bright and refreshing.

The designers have kept original features
The designers have kept original features

"I think it will bring in young people a bit more."

Damson & Wilde serves small and large plates, sharing dishes and drinks every day.

The menu changes throughout the day and the company hopes people will visit for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner or cocktails.

The bar serves a range of classic and Damson & Wilde's cocktails
The bar serves a range of classic and Damson & Wilde's cocktails

It also serves Sunday lunches.

General manager Fabrizio Lippi, 43, moved from Manchester, where he managed a Peruvian restaurant, to take up his new role in Bury.

The garden areas seats up to 80 people
The garden areas seats up to 80 people

"I think the design is great," he said.

"It's also a great company to work for. The interview process was quite lengthy with four interviews and I am delighted to get the job as general manager.

"The venue is in an iconic place in the town centre and I'm looking forward to getting to know people and being part of the community."

The company has also launched a Damson & Wilde club.

Zoe Vatcher, bar staff, making a Summer Spice cocktail
Zoe Vatcher, bar staff, making a Summer Spice cocktail

Customers can collect up loyalty points at the venue which can be redeemed in-house or with Damson & Wilde partners.

These currently include Gifford Hall wines, The Gym Group, punting in Cambridge and Virgin experience days.

The garden area
The garden area

For Toby Smith becoming part of the community is key to the company.

"Everyone has been very welcoming and the local council has also been super-supportive," he said.

General Manager Fabrizio Lippi
General Manager Fabrizio Lippi

"With the Damson & Wilde club, the idea is people can spend money with us and then redeem them here or with our partners.

"Hopefully Damson and Wilde will become an all day environment in Bury St Edmunds. We look forward to welcoming people.

"The garden is a particularly lovely area and a real suntrap.

Ollie Trezise, City Pub Group regional director, and Toby Smith, chief operations manager
Ollie Trezise, City Pub Group regional director, and Toby Smith, chief operations manager

"The retractable roof is currently being fitted, in time for Wednesday, which means people will be able to use it rain or shine.

The entrance to the garden area
The entrance to the garden area

"The overall design is a modern throughout, but the building still has its character."

More information here: www.damsonandwilde.co.uk