Northern restaurateurs behind Felicini chain launch new Sheffield concept

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Restaurant

Mud Crab Diner has opened in Sheffield and is a new concept from the restaurateur pair behind the successful Felicini chain of Italian restaurants in the North
Mud Crab Diner has opened in Sheffield and is a new concept from the restaurateur pair behind the successful Felicini chain of Italian restaurants in the North
The restaurateur pair behind the Felicini chain of Italian eateries in the North have launched a new restaurant concept in Sheffield, Mud Crab Diner, which they claim serves the 'perfect' burger.

Neil Lawrence and Ged Lynch have opened the 160-cover restaurant in Ecclesall Road in the Yorkshire city in a location previously operated under the Felicini brand they created nearly ten years ago.

Lawrence has operated hospitality businesses in the North since 1988 and the launch of JW Johnsons on Deansgate in Manchester before he came together with Lynch in 1994 with Grinch Wine Bar; a bar that is credited with leading the revival of the Northern city as a hub for trendy restaurants and bars.

They then moved into Italian restaurants with Felicini which was rolled out to a number of cities and now operates in five locations across the North including in Manchester, Wilmslow and Bakewell. The pair also launched a barbecue gastropub near Stockport last year and have been involved with the F&B offering in the Cornerhouse arts venue in the city but Lawrence told BigHospitality the latest venture had been a long time in the planning.

"We have been looking to do this for the last couple of years and looked at various sites but decided that we already had the most appropriate site in Sheffield. The business has changed on Ecclesall Road and I think it is slightly oversubscribed with Italians so it is a good opportunity to get this concept up and going."

Perfect burger

Inspired by Chicago restaurant Ed Debevic's, Lawrence says he has spent a long time attempting to perfect the best burger for a New York-inspired diner concept and feels like he has finally achieved it.

"We have always done good burgers in Grinch. About 30 years ago in Chicago I ate the best one I have ever eaten and I am a glutton for punishment - whenever I go anywhere if there is a burger on the menu I am desperate to have it and am invariably disappointed. What we are doing is as good as any burger you can get outside of America which is not an easy feat."

Although prominent the burger does not dominate the Mud Crab Diner offering which is designed to be a mix of Australian and American influences. Crispy pulled pork salad, monkfish and prawn Thai curry and crab and coriander linguini all feature on the menu with mains from £8-£16. Desserts include homemade Oreos with peanut butter milk and the restaurant also has an extensive cocktail menu.

Future plans

The Felicini restaurant brand has been the most successful for the pair in terms of operating in multiple locations but Lawrence revealed the creation of Mud Crab Diner and the Pointing Dog gastropub in Cheadle Hulme were both ways of identifying how to create new similarly successful brands for the business in the future.

"We have got to look to how we move our company on in the next two to five years and we are looking to do new things. We have to look to how we push ourselves forward and we certainly wish to earmark some more sites for the Sheffield concept if it continues at the rate it is doing after the honeymoon period," he concluded.

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