Ben McKellar on his upcoming Brighton restaurant The Flint House

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ben McKellar The Flint House
Brighton and Hove-based chef restaurateur Ben McKellar will open a casual restaurant in the city’s The Lanes area early next year, taking his portfolio of restaurants and pubs in and around the city up to five.

All of your current ventures have Ginger in the title. Why not this one?
It’s a bit of brand diversification I suppose. The Flint House is going to be a very different proposition to what we have done before. If we called it Ginger something or other people would expect it to be similar to our existing places. It’s still part of our limited company, though.

What’s the restaurant going to be like?
It’s tapas style but not Spanish. I’m not a fan of small plates as a descriptor but there will be a mix of small plates, snacks and larger dishes designed to share. We’ll stick to our usual style of modern British cooking using quality local produce. It will be affordable and flexible. We’ll have snacks from about £4 and small plates around £10 and then some sharing stuff beyond that. We will have an open kitchen on the ground floor with counter seating for walk-ins plus a few tables that can be reserved. There will be an upstairs terrace for about 40 people although that will be more geared towards cocktails and wine, but we will be serving some food up there.

And where exactly is it?
We’re on a newly created street to the rear of the old Hanningtons department store building. Most people haven’t quite got the heads round where it is but it’s very central. My wife and business partner Pamela and I are supposed to be getting the building in November and the fit out will take a couple of months, so all being well we will launch in early 2019. We’re going to the only A3 site within the development and will be surrounded by luxury retail brands. 

Are you going to be cooking there?
No. Tom Wright will be heading up the kitchen. He has worked with me for many years. He’s currently at The Ginger Dog over in Kemptown. He knows that more relaxed style of fresh and simple food well having cooked in Australia.

How are you other places doing?
Okay. But it’s tough out there at the moment. Our turnover goes up year on year but it’s tricky to turn that extra revenue into more profit because of rising costs. Minimum wage, pensions, the cost of ingredients... It feels like everything is kicking me in the nuts at the moment. We’ve had to be smart with our expansion. The Flint House has not required a huge investment because it’s a nil-premium deal. We’re hoping it will work well for us because it’s a central, high footfall area. It’s not a massive site but it’s the style of offer where we’ll hopefully be turning tables all through the day.

You’re also down to open another restaurant in Brighton near the Palace Pier...
The planning for it has now gone through but to be totally honest it's all gone a bit quiet. I’ve shelved it my end because there’s nothing I can really do to drive it forward, but I am up for it. The plan is to open a relaxed seafood restaurant called Ginger Fish. As things stand at the moment we’ll be sharing the same space as Soho House. Even if they do break ground soon it will be an 18 month build, so it’s a way off.

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