THE landmark Beauchief Hotel is set to enjoy a new lease of life after being taken over by one of the city’s most successful partnerships.
BrewKitchen – an established joint venture between Richard Smith’s restaurant group and Thornbridge Brewery – moved in on Friday, with ambitious plans to revive the business to its former popularity.
The Beauchief is currently closed but it will reopen next month with a classic cellar bar, restaurant, function room, eight bedrooms and offices.
“It’s very exciting for us to have a base like this – it’s something we haven’t had before,” said director Simon Webster.
BrewKitchen was approached by owners Sheafbank Investments following the demise of former operators Kenwright Investments Ltd – which included well-known local chef Christian Kent.
They refurbished the building and relaunched it two years ago as Christian’s but ceased trading at the end of January.
“We’d been waiting for the right opportunity but this was a bit of a curve ball,” said Mr Webster. “In December, Champs was the only new project on the horizon.This is such a fantastic site. We want to breathe a bit of life back into it. It’s not going to be easy but it was too good an opportunity to miss.”
The Beauchief was built in 1900 as the Abbeydale Station Hotel. A classic Victorian building, with high ceilings and generous proportions, it was a watering hole for steel merchants travelling between London and their factories.
In the 1980s and 90s it enjoyed renewed popularity under French general manager Michel Limon but has since struggled to recapture its heyday, despite the best efforts of subsequent owners.
BrewKitchen – whose portfolio includes Artisan at Crosspool, the Cricket Inn at Totley and Relish in Ecclesall Road – has a solid reputation for all-round quality.
Directors include restaurateurs Richard and Victoria Smith, Simon Webster and Jim Harrison from Thornbridge and Mike Sharratt, former MD of Fretwell-Downing, who oversees outside catering and events.
He had been exploring the possibility of taking over Whirlowbrook Hall until the Beauchief became available.
“There’s more potential here,” said Mike. “But it will be harder to operate because it’s a 24/7 operation, with bedrooms as well as the restaurant, bar and function room.”
Responsibility for day-to-day operation will go to new manager Kelly Ware and her partner, head chef Charlie Curren, who are joining the team from the Samuel Fox Country Inn at Bradfield.
They are moving in on April 1 but are involved in planning the new venture.
“We’re genuinely excited about being part of this team. We want to put The Beauchief back on the map where it deserves to be,” said Charlie.
Richard Smith is working on preliminary plans for the business: “We’ve got lots of ideas, but at this stage it’s all so new, we’re still developing the concept.
“We want people to know that The Beauchief is in a good pair of hands,” he said. “In time, this may well become our flagship. It encompasses everything that BrewKitchen does, under one roof.”
The newer annexe to the hotel, which is not part of the BrewKitchen deal, is being converted into 16 flats by Sheafbank Investments.