Hotelier James Thomas and chef Craig Mather have opened the Little Ships Restaurant and Cafe in Ramsgate, Kent.
The new site is an eight-minute walk from the Royal Harbour Hotel, overlooks the marina and seats 80 people including its outside tables. It occupies the former Miles Bar site, which closed at the of June and was refurbished in eight days.
The Little Ships’ name pays tribute to the flotilla of privately owned boats used to help evacuate stranded British troops from the Dunkirk beaches in 1940. It also refers to Thanet local trawlers, which supply the fresh fish cooked in the restaurants.
Decorations include photos, maps and memorabilia which commemorate the Dunkirk evacuation and feature the officer’s Army tunic of Thomas’s grandfather, Dr George Morris, who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was evacuated on 30 May 1940.
Unlike the Empire Room – the other restaurant owned by Thomas and Mather at the Royal Harbour Hotel – Little Ships will aim to offer an informal style and is open all day, seven days a week. Similarly to the Empire Room, the menu will showcase local produce, including some from across the Channel from northern France.
Thomas and Mather have plans to rollout the concept in other locations along the coast such as Margate, Folkestone Dover and Brighton. Mather also installed a locally-made Harrison charcoal-fuelled free-standing oven in the new open kitchen to be used for its ability to accommodate differing cooking techniques.
He said: “Costing over £6,000 these hand-built ovens aren’t cheap, but when you taste the food, you’ll know why we invested in one. You’ve never tasted a steak like it – our vegan customers love the results too.”
James Thomas added: “Craig is responsible for the food, I do the ambience.”