A restaurant which has made the move from London’s Covent Garden to Berkhamsted will open its doors to the public next month.
Porters, which was in the capital for nearly 36 years, is joining Marks & Spencer and Costa in the retail block on the High Street.
Managing director Neil Wornham says he is aiming to hold the grand opening sometime between May 7 and 14.
The restaurant will seat 100 inside, with an extra 70 in the outside eating area, and Mr Wornham says he is ‘certain’ it will be a big hit.
He said he was ‘very satisfied’ with the ‘look, feel and vibe of the specatucular unit’ as contractors work to deliver a slick and contemporary finish.
The restaurant’s move from the capital was prompted after the building’s landlord wanted to buy the lease back due to redevlopment plans.
We’re very satisfied with the look, the vibe and the feel of the restaurant.Neil Wornham, managing director
Mr Wornham, who has been with the firm 25 years, said: “We thought we could either take the money and run, or keep doing what we enjoy doing most, just somewhere else!”
Around 50 sites were considered for the new location, but the team finally settled on Berkhamsted because it ‘ticked all the boxes’.
The head chef has just been announced as Michael Short, who has worked in the kitchens of Marcus Wareing and John Burton-Race, so he promises to cook up some ‘exciting stuff’ in the kitchen.
Mr Wornham said: “Our menu will be seasonal and relevant to the weather. So if we’ve planned salads on our specials for August but it turns out the weather is rubbish, we can do something like beef stew with herb dumplings instead.
“We will also be getting our eggs, vegetables and herbs from the Sunnyside Rural Trust, which we think is brilliant.”
Just four of the original 70 staff – the operations manager, restaurant manager and two chefs – have moved from the Covent Garden site, so now the hunt is on to find people who want to work both front of house and behind the scenes.
Open evenings are being held every Thursday, from 3pm to 9pm, at the new site, where those who are interested in getting a job can have a look around, ask questions and apply.
Mr Wornham has also explained how he hopes the new eatery will bring extra benefits to the area, besides jobs for local people.
He said: “We were in Covent Garden for 35 and a half years and we had very much become part of the community.
“We want to carry on that ethos in Berkhamsted and the Hospice of St Francis will be our worthy cause for the next 12 months.”
One of the ways the eatery will raise money for the charity, based in nearby Northchurch, will be to donate £1 from every dish sold from the specials menu.
Mr Wornham said: “We did something similar in Covent Garden, and raised more than £120,000 for Help For Heroes.
“I know we won’t have the same footfall here that we enjoyed in London, but we want to do whatever we can.”
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