Jennings, who has trained with chefs including Shaun Rankin, Nigel Haworth and Gary Rhodes, purchased the venue where he has worked for the past two years on the previous owner’s retirement, and has brought in his partner Karen Deveney as general manager. Jennings intends to raise every aspect of the restaurant to the highest standards in the hopes of gaining another rosette and a Michelin star.
Grenache won two AA rosettes in March this year, which prompted Jennings to purchase the venue.
“I’ve worked at the restaurant for the last two years and been partly responsible for its success,” he told BigHospitality. “We’ve got a fantastic client base, and for the last two years we’ve been pushing to get some national recognition.
“In March we were awarded two rosettes in our first ever inspection, which was a massive milestone for the restaurant. That’s when I really got my belief in it. I thought I’m onto a winner here and the place is going somewhere, so why not take ownership of it?”
At Grenache Jennings focuses on ‘traditional, old-school’ cooking, believing the products and finished dishes speak for themselves. He told BigHospitality he now wants to pull the other aspects of the restaurant up to meet the quality of the food on offer.
“Originally the food was at a high standard and everything else was dragging a little below, so what we’re trying to do is bring everything up to the same level,” he explained.
“We haven’t changed too much; we’ve invested in a new coffee machine and put together a better wine list which matches the food quality that we’re producing. We’re also putting an emphasis on fresh local produce.”
The restaurant runs over two floors and has 38 covers. The upstairs was refurbished in January, while Jennings has given the downstairs a ‘lick of paint’ to freshen the place up.
“We’re going for more of a vintage feel with it,” he said. “The art décor that we’re going to introduce to the restaurant as time goes on is of a vintage feel, but it will be quirky at the same time.”
New general manager Deveney has substantial experience in fine dining restaurants, having previously worked at Damson in MediaCityUK and with Aiden Byrne at The Church Green. Jennings believes that her experience will help raise the level of service, and intends to put time into staff training too.
When asked what his aims were for the restaurant, Jennings said: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to go for a star. But ultimately we want a successful restaurant where the clientele are getting value for money. That’s our main selling point, we do proper food for proper people, but we do it in a special way.”